Apple increases lobbying pressure in Washington ahead of Apple Watch releaseAs Apple enters uncharted territory with Apple Pay and the upcoming Apple Watch, the company has increased lobbying activities to assuage government scrutiny, though overall spending for the 2014 calendar year is expected to be far less than other tech firms.
Citing statistics from lobbying expenditure tracking website OpenSecrets.org, Bloomberg reports that Apple has stepped up its presence in Washington ahead of new initiatives that could draw a watchful eye from government regulatory agencies. Apple's new payments service Apple Pay and a forthcoming move into biometric data tracking with Apple Watch will add to a list of products and services that range from telecommunications to cloud computing.
As previously reported, Apple spent a bit over $1 million on lobbying during the third quarter of 2014, building to a $2.9 million running total for the year through September. Spending is expected to surpass the company's $3.5 million benchmark set in 2013.
Activities were directed at key issues like consumer health data, safe driving, e-books and data privacy, all of which are important for directions in which Apple is moving. Specifically, Apple's lobbyists targeted 39 issues, including e-book publishing, online safety, copyright and patent reform, safe driving (CarPlay) and regulation of mobile medical devices and health software applications (Apple Watch and HealthKit). Other issues included corporate and international tax reform.
Looking to the future, Apple is taking a proactive stance on issues related to quickly burgeoning tech sectors like cloud computing. A high-profile iCloud breach in September resulted in a massive leak of compromising celebrity photos, shining a light on the precarious nature of online security. Fallout spilled over into other business categories and Apple received letters from policymakers asking for assurances that a similar scenario wouldn't play out with Apple Pay, which stores a user's credit card information to conduct touch-less transactions.
Apple took on law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr last year to help deal with increased lobbying activities and currently fields a total of 23 lobbyists roaming the Capitol. Most recently, Amber Cottle took over as the company's lobbying team leader after Catherine Novelli was nominated to a post at the State Department by President Barack Obama.
Company CEO Tim Cook has also made frequent trips to Washington, and was most recently seen with Senator Orinn Hatch (R-UT), chairman of the GOP's High Tech Task Force, in December.
Despite its lobbying efforts to date, Apple's spending is a far cry from the budgets of other tech giants like Microsoft and Google, which spent $6 million and $13.7 million on lobbying through the third quarter of 2014, respectively.
Apple, along with other U.S. business entities, have until today to file lobbying disclosures with the House of Representatives. Filings are expected to be available for public viewing on Wednesday.