Monday, April 15, 2024

Lobbyists for hyperactive digital giants in Canada

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
"Subtly charming problem solver. Extreme tv enthusiast. Web scholar. Evil beer expert. Music nerd. Food junkie."

Digital giants stormed Parliament House last year, increasing the number of lobbyists and stepping up the steps. duty Record 212 contacts from FAANG – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google – with public office holders over the past 12 months, the vast majority of which have occurred since scheduling C-10 and C-11 billings dealing respectively with broadcasting and information protection Personal.

Amazon is by far the most active group of FAANGs when it comes to dealing with public authorities. With seven lobbyists, the e-commerce and cloud computing giant has registered more than 110 connections, or 50% of similar approaches made by other digital multinationals.

The company refused to give an interview to Task or provide information on expenditures related to these activities. However, she explains via email the increase in interactions with elected officials and civil servants through her increased investment in Canada: “These investments include job creation, the launch of two new renewable energy projects, and the opening of new facilities in several new communities.”

According to information from the Canadian Lobbyist Registry, a number of interactions with the Departments of Finance and Heritage and the Revenue Agency have focused on taxes and broadcasting.

Google also refused to give an interview with Task in this subject. In a very short email, Google Canada spokesperson Louisa Stanek noted that the company has been interacting with government representatives “on issues relevant to Canadian businesses and Internet users”: “We have seen a number of relevant legislative proposals in 2021, and have This was reflected in our recordings.”

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With five active lobbyists, Google has announced 56 submissions in the past 12 months, according to data provided by Google. duty. The majority of requests dealt with broadcasting, tax and intellectual property issues.

Netflix has also been active this year, doubling the number of representatives in federal bodies, from two to four. It has nearly tripled the number of calls to public office holders compared to previous years. Since Bill C-10 was proposed in November, which would have a direct impact on its activities, 13 steps have been taken.

While Apple has been somewhat cautious — only 3 moves — Facebook has announced 20 contacts with officials and elected officials, including 6 with the Heritage Department, which oversees Bill C-10.

In February, Disney also entered the performance arena. The company, which has offered the Disney+ platform since 2019, has actually recorded more connections than Netflix: 17 interactions with government bodies, including 4 with opposition MPs – the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party – and 5 with senators.

Here as elsewhere

Professor of Journalism in the UQAM School of Mass Communication, Patrick White, believes these numbers are revealed by “the size of the number of meetings and the frequency aspect.” He said that their lobbying activities show that “this type of multinational corporation has disproportionate means to try to influence the government in its favor,” adding that no other media organization has the financial resources to compete with it in this regard.

In the case of Amazon, which accounts for 50% of recorded connections, “they may be steps to gain territory for distribution centers across Canada, as well as AWS data centers.” Amazon is competing with Netflix for video content with Amazon Prime, said Patrick White.

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It is clear that what is happening in Canada mirrors what is happening in Europe and the United States. Integrity Watch, a platform that tracks and identifies lobbying activities within the European Union, estimated last summer that GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) had untied it, spending more than 22 million euros, or more than 33.1 million Canadian dollars.

If the numbers differ from one region to another, the result remains the same: these companies have increased their lobbying activities significantly. This is the case in the United States, where “plans to break up Google and Facebook are underway, in Congress and in the House of Representatives,” recalls Patrick White.

These companies are still very profitable, but they are nonetheless sailing against the tide on the regulatory front. Last week, nearly 130 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reached agreement on a tax rate of at least 15% for multinational companies.

“We are moving toward quiet regulation in terms of taxes, content management, and hateful comments. We can also expect very strong antitrust operations in the US and Europe in the next three to four years,” says White.

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