American tech companies have been shocked by a series of new bills, six in total, from the Democrats in the House of Representatives. These aim to restrict the power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. According to The New York Times, a big lobby has started.
That companies are stirring in Washington is a well-known fact. The four companies spent converted 45 million euros to their lobby in 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal.
But how theyre being heard of them now is special, says Gigi Sohn, a member of the Institute of Technology, Law and Policy at Georgetown University in Washington. “Ive never seen this way before. They defend themselves with hand and tooth,” she says in The New York Times. “They see these proposals as an existential threat because it touches their earnings model.”
Tim Cook called Speaker Pelosi
According to the paper, the proposals for Apple are so threatening that top man Tim Cook decided to call Nancy Pelosi, the President of the House of Representatives. The bills are being rushed, hampering innovation and touching consumers because Apples services are disrupted, Cook said to Pelosi.
Last week, Congressman David Cicilline, chairman of the competition subcommittee, said that the new legislation would mean that Apple should allow all pre-installed apps to be deleted by users. Now Apple decides which apps are allowed and which doesnt.
Kent Walker, responsible for global policy at Google, has called several policy makers. The companys top lobbyist says in a statement that “American consumers and small businesses would scare if they discover how the laws undermine their favorite services”.
Break up in conflict of interest
Thirteen nonprofits, much of which are funded by tech companies according to The New York Times, have also written a letter to policymakers criticizing two specific proposals. The proposals were tabled almost two weeks ago and the consequences differ.
This includes a proposal that requires platforms to make it easier for consumers to carry their data from one service to another. There are more controversial ideas. Another makes it possible to break up the concerns in the event of a conflict of interest. Another proposal would make it impossible for tech giants to make takeovers in the future.
Each proposal has a signature of a Democrat and Republican. Nevertheless, the question is whether the proposals will reach the finish line and, if so, in what form. Media Magnate Rupert Murdoch has already called on Republicans to support the new legislation.
The question is how much tech lobbyists can change the legislation. The Wall Street Journal wrote this weekend that their influence in Washington has diminished. In addition, the Biden administration has just appointed a big tech critic, Lina Kahn, as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, the organization that protects US consumers and enforces competition law.