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Big Tech increases funding to US foreign policy think tanks ctm magazine


Financial Times

The world’s largest technology companies are pouring money into the biggest foreign policy think tanks in the US, as they seek to advance the argument that stricter competition rules will benefit China.

Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple are behind an increase in funding to four of Washington’s most prestigious research groups: the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Center for a New American Security, Brookings, and the Hudson Institute.

Total donations from Big Tech companies to the four think tanks have risen from at least $625,000 in 2017-18 to at least $1.2 million in 2019-20, according to a Financial Times analysis of financial disclosures. These figures could be as high as $1.2 million in 2017-18 to $2.7 million in 2019-20.

Not all of the groups have published figures for 2020-21, but those that have also show tech donations increasing once more.

While the money spent is relatively small for the companies involved—Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple each have market capitalizations of more than $1 trillion—the funding has ramped up as tech groups join the oil and gas industry among the top donors to the think tanks.

Technology companies have been building their presence in Washington for several years, as they fight bipartisan attempts to regulate them more strictly on everything from privacy to content moderation.

There have been similar lobbying efforts around the world, but particularly in Brussels, with EU officials having shown a strong appetite for taking on US tech groups with antitrust probes and new rules.

Silicon Valley’s biggest companies have become focused on influencing the US foreign policy elite at a time when measures are being considered to tackle their market power in a way that tech executives have argued risks letting Chinese tech giants become more powerful.



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