You are hereiWatch News: Murdoch's News Corp Lobbied on Privacy Issues as Hacking Controversy Bubbled

iWatch News: Murdoch's News Corp Lobbied on Privacy Issues as Hacking Controversy Bubbled


-By Josh Israel and Aaron Mehta

July 18, 2011- As the phone hacking scandal grows around Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, disclosure records show that the company spent over $1.5 million on federal lobbying in the first three months of this year -- including lobbying on issues of digital privacy.

Disclosure forms filed with the Senate Office of Public Records show that News Corp's American arm, News America Inc., employed seven in-house lobbyists supplemented by six outside lobbying firms hired by the company. The lobbyists worked on an array of issues relevant to broadcast television, but also crossed into issues of free trade, defense spending, and increasing the debt ceiling.

Notably, the company whose U.K. affiliate is under fire for alleged phone hacking and whose domestic operations are being investigated by the FBI , lobbied on issues including “online privacy,” consumer privacy protection bills such as the “ BEST PRACTICES Act ” and “ Do Not Track Me Online Act ,” and, simply, “privacy.”

Though lobbying disclosure rules require filers to be specific when listing issues and legislation on which they’ve lobbied, several of these categories were quite general and News America did not respond to requests for more details, including on which side of these issues the company was advocating.

In addition, by virtue of the company’s $1 million donation to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last summer, News America may also be de facto bankrolling a second set of lobbyists. An iWatch News examination of the Chamber’s disclosure forms found significant activity on online copyright infringement issues, a major focus of News America’s lobbying. A story by the Guardian newspaper of London noted that the Chamber also worked to loosen the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits U.S. based companies from participating in the bribery of foreign officials — rules that potentially could come into play during the ongoing legal investigation of Murdoch’s empire.

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