Big tech companies push back new antitrust bills, Tim Cook called Speaker Pelosi to oppose them
Over a week ago, U.S. lawmakers announced huge bipartisan bills targeting huge technology companies. Many businesses reported that Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google were directly targeted at the new set of bills that would place more restrictions on companies’ monopolistic tactics such as acquiring competitors. Of course, these companies are broadly against the new bills and have started conducting their lobbying campaigns against the bills. The following is an excerpt from New York Times
Leaders, lobbyists and more than a dozen think tanks and law firms paid for by technology companies have swarmed Capitol offices, called and emailed lawmakers and their staff, and written letters that would have serious consequences for industry and the country if the ideas become law, ”
That NOW reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook personally called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress to back down on the bills. Cook warned Pelosi that the bills were “rushed” and, if passed, would “harm consumers by disrupting the services that run Apple’s lucrative iPhone,” according to NOWreferring to five people who knew about the conversations. According to one of the people, Pelosi asked Cook to “identify specific political objections to the measures,” Pelosi allegedly said, pushing back against Cook when he asked if the bills could be further delayed.
CNBC reports that Google’s VP of Government Affairs Mark Isakowitz warns that the bills would “require [Google] to decompose [its] services and prevent [it] from offering key features used by hundreds of millions of Americans. “Izakowits also warns that the bills could” raise serious privacy and security issues “and that they would” harm the way small businesses connect with consumers. “
Meanwhile, Amazon’s VP of public policy warned of the “significant negative effects” that Amazon consumers would face, as well as the small and medium-sized businesses selling on the platform. A spokesman for Facebook told CNBC that antitrust bills are intended to “promote competition and protect consumers, not penalize successful American companies.” A Facebook spokesman also tried to explain that the bills undermine “competition with in the technology sector, including competition from foreign companies such as TikTok, WeChat and Alibaba.” It is worth noting that these are all Chinese companies.
The new bills represent the modernization of antitrust laws that were designed to make it difficult for companies to engage in monopolistic behavior. These antitrust laws are highly obsolete and should be updated in modern times, where technology, data collection and digital retail are such a big part of society.
Here is an overview of each of the five bills:
- Ending Platform Monopolies Act: would make it illegal for a platform with more than 50 million monthly active users and a market value of over $ 600 billion. to own or operate a business that constitutes a conflict of interest. This bill would mean that Amazon would not be allowed to sell self-branded products like Amazon Basics.
- American Choice and Innovation Online Act: Would ban a platform from discriminatory behavior, such as Apple, favoring its own music, TV and podcast services over competitors.
- Platform Competition and Opportunity Act:: Would make it so that dominant platforms that want to make acquisitions of other companies should prove that their acquisitions are legal rather than that the government needs to prove that their acquisitions will reduce competition. This bill would make it harder for high-profile acquisitions to review like T-Mobile and Sprint.
- Increasing compatibility and competition by activating the Service Switching (ACCESS) Act: This would require dominant platforms to adhere to a standard of data portability and interoperability, making it easier for consumers to take their data to other platforms.
- Law on the modernization of merger fees: This would simply raise the fees that companies have to pay to advise the FTC and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Department on major mergers to raise money for both agencies.
The bills still need to be voted on by the Judiciary Committee before they arrive at the House of Representatives. The Senate must also approve the bills before they can be signed into law by President Biden.