Facebook spent $130,000 on lobbying legislators and federal agencies in the fourth quarter of last year, according to disclosures. That’s three times as much as it did during the same time a year earlier, when it spent $38,117.
The company’s new priorities this quarter included speaking at a hearing on potential “do not track” legislation, which would allow consumers to opt-out of tracking and behaviorally-targeted advertising. Because Facebook’s ads are all targeted based on what users explicitly share or “like,” any “do not track” legislation would probably not have a large impact on the company’s ad revenues.
Facebook also lobbied House representatives and U.S. Senators on how foreign governments restrict Internet access — a sensitive issue after the Egyptian government clamped down on mobile phone and Internet communications during nationwide protests last weekend.
The company’s director of public policy, Tim Sparapani, and Adam Conner, Facebook’s earliest full-time employee in Washington D.C., also reached out to the White House and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on federal policy around cyber security and data retention.
As Facebook’s reach grows, it increasingly has to deal with requests from law enforcement officials for private user data. Momentum is building to revise a 24-year-old law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, that governs whether warrants are required to access information shared through e-mail, social networking and mobile phones.