US Tech Firms Hid Lobbying Efforts, Say EU Officials

Amazon, Facebook, and Google paid lobbyists to influence EU lawmakers, according to Politico.

Bloomberg News

October 14, 2022

2 Min Read
image of social media logos of Amazon, Facebook, and Google
Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Meta Platforms Inc., Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google funded an outside lobbying group to sway lawmakers on a major European tech law, but failed to disclose the connections, according to complaints filed by members of the European Parliament. 

In the complaints, three members of parliament said the big tech companies broke transparency rules for lobbyists and failed to list their members correctly, according to documents seen by Bloomberg and filed to the EU’s Transparency Register on Thursday.

The lawmakers are asking the transparency register to revoke the companies’ access to lobbying EU institutions if they’re found to violate the rules. 

The tech companies are accused of lobbying under the guise of a group that said it represents small and medium-sized businesses to try to influence the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act. The acts take aim at so-called gatekeepers, preventing them from giving preference to their own services and requiring the largest platforms to make messaging services interoperable. 

Lawmakers wrote they were unaware that messages from a group called the Connected Commerce Council during the run up to the DMA and DSA votes came from the likes of Google, Amazon and Meta.

“After the votes on both laws we learned the funding and source of these messages comes from a different angle,” they wrote.

The Connected Commerce Council, also known as 3C, said that it had received an inquiry from the Transparency Register in March and responded. The group was told the case was closed as of June. “Our filing is accurate and to the satisfaction of the Transparency Register,” Executive Director Rob Retzlaff said in an email. 

In a statement, Amazon denied working with the Connected Commerce Council on European issues, though it has partnered with the group in the US. “In the EU, Amazon has not asked the Connected Commerce Council to lobby on the DMA, DSA or any other European legislation,” the company said.

Google, meanwhile, said its work with the council “is clearly and transparently listed on our declaration.”

“We are committed to transparent engagement and declare our sponsorship and partnerships with various organizations in a comprehensive list on the register’s website,” Google said.

Meta didn’t respond to a request for comment on the news, which was first reported by Politico.

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