Firms severing ties with Wikileaks have multiple interests before feds
By Bill Allison
Dec 07 2010
Amazon.com, Paypal, MasterCard and Visa have ceased to do business
with Wikileaks--the controversial organization that's published thousands of classified U.S. government documents. All four have spent millions of dollars lobbying the federal government on a variety of issues ranging from keeping Internet sales exempt from taxation to the regulation of credit card issuers under the Dodd Frank financial reform bill.
Lobbyists for Amazon.com
, for example, have reported spending more than $20 million to influence the government since 1999, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics
. In the company's most recent lobbying disclosure
, Amazon lists net neutrality, federal support for broadband Internet access, taxation of "remote sales" or online transactions, credit card regulations and transportation safety measures.
Amazon.com has been the vendor for several relatively small purchases
by federal agencies; it's also aiming
to sign up government agencies as customers for its cloud computing, and last September hosted an event
aimed at federal IT officers. The Treasury Dept. is the latest
to take advantage of the cloud.
Paypal's parent corporation, Ebay, has hired lobbying firms that have reported spending
more than $13 million to lobby the federal government since 1997. Like Amazon, Ebay's most recent disclosure
shows that it lobbied the government on net neutrality, credit card rules and taxation of online transactions. It also lobbied on immigration, cap and trade and Small Business Administration support for small, online retailers.
Since 1997, Visa has reported spending
more than $46 million to lobby Congress and executive branch agencies, most recently
on the series of federal laws and regulations affecting the credit card industry. Rival MasterCard reported spending
$22 million during the same period. Like Visa, MasterCard's recent lobbying focus
has been on reforms affecting its industry.