Tech and telecom companies have spent more than $3.3 billion on lobbying over the past decade. And they're just getting started.
Net neutrality has recently consumed the interest of companies that would be affected by Internet regulations. But even after the Federal Communications Commission votes Thursday to implement a plan that would regulate broadband Internet as a utility, they will continue to spend big.
The tech industry's next major lobbying fight will likely be over privacy, says Bill Allison, senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation. That includes questions of whether the police can trace mobile phones or ask an email provider for a customer's emails, as well as a debate about the extent of the National Security Agency's surveillance.
"At some point, am I less likely to share something with Facebook—which Facebook needs to make money off of me—if I also think it goes straight to the NSA?" Allison asked. "A lot of these companies are going to be reviewing their relationships with the national security [apparatus]."
Meanwhile, telecom companies and groups will focus on updating the Communications Act, which governs how telecommunications are regulated, and on pushing the government to free up more unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi, said Brian Dietz, vice president for communications at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.