Big Tech Mobilizes Against Congress…

Since the summer 2019, Congress has started to take the problem of big tech seriously.

in June of last year, after a hard-fought committee battle that split both parties, the House Antitrust Subcommittee finally passed legislation that would implement some of the report’s recommendation. The bills weren’t perfectly crafted, but their passage was a political setback for big tech. This week, the fight moves to the Senate.

As one would expect, the lobbying by big tech is fast and furious. Every one of their trade associations and various nonprofits will be chiming in, from Netchoice to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to vaguely named pop-up organizations like American Edge. (Below I’ve posted a letter going around the California Congressional delegation in opposition to the legislative package.) Big Tech has some pet congress critters they are counting on named in the article but not here.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai are apparently personally calling Senators on the committee and having hour-long discussions, telling them any legislative efforts would undermine security, privacy, and would help China. Apple, and to a lesser extent Google, are still considered the good guys, at least compared to Facebook. Cook is emphasizing how Apple protects its users’ security and privacy, despite ample evidence to the contrary. (Indeed, the head of Apple’s Fraud Engineering Algorithms And Risk Team, Eric Friedman, once said that Apple’s app review team was like “bringing a plastic butter knife to a gun fight.” And Apple didn’t even have someone in charge of rooting out fraud in the app store until 2018. Moreover, Apple is still actively and aggressively moving key technology to China. But I digress)

My guess is that the main strategy will be to try to attach a ‘poison pill’ amendment to the bill that would destroy it.

I suspect the power of the purse eg campaign contributions will enter the fray soon.