A lobbying document received by civil society groups Corporate Europe Observatory and Global Witness highlights how tech giants have ramped up their spending since the DMA and DSA were proposed back in December 2020. The Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act is a part of a major policy reboot to update regional rules for digital business and rein in big tech names.
The revelation of the lobbying document
The lobbying document revealed the arguments used by tech giants including Apple, Amazon, Google, Meta, and Spotify to press their interests behind the scenes in a bid to reshape key components of the EU’s DMA and DSA. The report shows that Apple has increased its spending on EU lobbying the most, almost double how much it’s shelling out from €3.5M in 2020 to €6.5M in 2021.
The second biggest spending on EU lobbying after Apple was Facebook (Meta), growing its budget from €5.5M in 2020 to €6M in 2021. Google also increased its lobbying spending from €5.8M in 2020 to €6M. While Amazon and Microsoft both made similar increments. As per reports, the tech giants’ focus has been around surveillance advertising as they spent millions to block off an attempt to get an outright ban on tracking-based advertising into EU legislation.
Another issue that came to light was the regulation of the automatic systems that rank content in the users’ feeds, also known as recommendations. The report details particular moves by Spotify and Google to limit how much access external researchers can gain to platform data to carry out research into the societal impact of recommender algorithms.
The move by big tech giants
The Big Tech firms spent more than 27 million euros in just one year. Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook, Spotify, and the copyright industry actively worked to influence the trilogues by:
- Pitting the EU Institutions against one another;
- Becoming more technical and offering amendments to the text;
- Using meetings to gain access to information that was not available to the public;
- Bringing in the CEOs to meet Commissioners, and inviting them to off-the-record dinners.