Tech companies lobby on cloud policy, planning issues and letting rules

Amazon, Facebook, Airbnb and Stripe among those to file contacts to register

Airbnb lobbied Dublin City Council on new rules around short-term lettings, which came into effect last year. Photograph: John Mac Dougall/AFP/Getty Images

Airbnb lobbied Dublin City Council on new rules around short-term lettings, which came into effect last year. Photograph: John Mac Dougall/AFP/Getty Images

 

Amazon, Facebook, Airbnb and Stripe were among the technology companies to file returns to the lobbying register ahead of the latest deadline.

The flurry of filings to the Register of Lobbying ahead of the January 21st deadline covers meetings, events, emails and other contacts with politicians and government officials in the final four months of the year.

Amazon Web Services was one of the more active tech companies during the period, with its lobbying including a briefing between its head of public sector sales, Mark Finlay, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on Amazon’s “investment and commitment” to Ireland and its recommendations on cloud computing policy.

Amazon Web Services’ head of public policy, Niamh Gallagher, discussed the company’s presence in Ireland and the EU as well as “sustainability and community engagement initiatives” with MEPs Frances Fitzgerald, Billy Kelleher and Maria Walsh, while Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane was also given an update on the company’s activity.

Facebook held an information session with Department of Communications assistant secretary Patricia Cronin on its content review systems, which have been the subject of international scrutiny in recent years following concerns about harmful material, disinformation and contempt of court.

Harmful content

Facebook Ireland head of public policy Dualta Ó Broin also contacted Ms Fitzgerald, Mr Kelleher and their fellow MEPs Seán Kelly and Clare Daly to “reiterate the company’s public statements welcoming regulation” on harmful content, election integrity, data portability and privacy.

The intended result, according to Facebook’s return to the register, was to “inform the MEPs of the measures the company has taken to address concerns and increase transparency”.

Separately, Facebook also sought clarification on the Meath County Development Plan from Meath County Council chief executive Jackie Maguire to “obtain a firmer understanding” of plans for lands adjacent to Facebook’s data centre in Clonee.

Meanwhile, Airbnb’s Irish public policy lead Jean Hoey met Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan to “engage with” the council on the short-term letting regulations that came into effect last July.

Housing crisis

The rules, which effectively ban year-round, short-term lets in private properties in certain urban areas, were introduced to prevent platforms such as Airbnb from exacerbating the housing crisis, but housing charity Threshold has questioned the level of enforcement.

Stripe, the San Francisco-based payments company founded by billionaire brothers Patrick and John Collison, discussed “the importance of the digital single market” at a policymaker dinner in Strasbourg at which Ms Fitzgerald was present.

The company’s head of public policy for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, Sandro Gianella, also met Mr Kelly in Strasbourg to talk about difficulties faced by start-ups as well as “the prospects for furthering an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem” in the EU.