Tech giants have repeatedly said they would welcome government regulation â€” if itâ€™s the right regulation, of course. But faced with five antitrust bills that could unwind what the House Judiciary Committee described as Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebookâ€™s â€śmonopoly power,â€ť Big Tech is bringing out the big lobbying guns.
Apple CEO Tim Cook himself called Speaker Nancy Pelosi to â€śdeliver a warningâ€ť that the â€śrushedâ€ť antitrust bills could disrupt the iPhone, according to The New York Times, and thatâ€™s not all:
â€śExecutives, lobbyists, and more than a dozen think tanks and advocacy groups paid by tech companies have swarmed Capitol offices, called and emailed lawmakers and their staff members, and written letters arguing there will be dire consequences for the industry and the country if the ideas become law,â€ť the NYT wrote.
Thereâ€™s a growing sense that the current administration has a genuine interest in combating tech monopolies â€” a point perhaps made most clearly when Biden chose prominent antitrust scholar and Amazon critic Lina Khan to lead the Federal Trade Commission. She was sworn in last week.
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Itâ€™s not unusual for tech companies to dive deeper into lobbying these days, as youâ€™d expect now that theyâ€™re the most valuable companies in the world, and weâ€™ve seen their outsize influence overwhelm voters and legislators at the local level before. Uber and Lyft won big after backing the most expensive measure in California history, using their own apps as an unfair advantage, and Arizonaâ€™s controversial app store bill mysteriously disappeared after tech companies stepped in. An Apple lobbyist managed to scare California legislators away from a right-to-repair bill in 2019, too.
Pelosi apparently wasnâ€™t having it, though, at least not on the call. She pushed back against Cook, according to the Timesâ€™ sources.