Google Inc boosted its spending on federal lobbying 57 percent in the first quarter to address issues including patent reform and competition in the advertising market, as the Internet search giant increasingly finds itself in the regulatory spotlight.
Google spent $1.38 million in the first three months of 2010, compared with $880,000 in the same period a year earlier, according to recently filed records on the Senate Office of Public Affairs website, highlighted in a report by the consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog on Tuesday.
The lobbying was directed at numerous government bodies and agencies including the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Commerce Department and the Federal Trade Commission, according to the filings.
Google also lobbied the Executive Office of the President about international freedom of expression and censorship, as well as general export control issues, according to the records.
In an emailed statement about the increase in lobbying spending, Google spokeswoman Mistique Cano said: These are some pretty big issues we're tackling, from fighting censorship to keeping the Internet open.
In March, Google ended its policy of censoring search results in China by relocating its search engine to Hong Kong, in the wake of what Google said were increasing censorship demands in China and a cyber attack on its systems that it traced to China.
Google, the world's No.1 Internet search engine, has also experienced increasing regulatory scrutiny as it has grown in size and expanded into new markets.
The FTC is holding up Google's $750 million acquisition of mobile advertising company AdMob to examine the deal's competitive impact.
The U.S. Department of Justice has challenged Google's settlement with book publishers and authors' groups that would allow the search giant to create an online digital library.
Google has only in recent years built a sizable presence in Washington to deal with public policy and regulatory issues, registering as a lobbyist in 2007 after using an outside lobbying firm the previous two years. The company still lags some of its tech-industry peers.
Google spent $4.03 million lobbying the federal government last year, according to records on the Senate site, compared with Microsoft Corp's $6.72 million and Oracle Corp's $5.10 million. First-quarter figures from those companies were expected to be filed by the end of Tuesday.
John Simpson, a consumer advocate with the group Consumer Watchdog, said the latest data shows the extent to which Google is increasing its lobbying efforts.
Google has gone from no presence in Washington to really now what's one of the biggest lobby shops around, Simpson said.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic, editing by Maureen Bavdek)