Lawmakers in the House of Representatives introduced legislation aimed at reigning in the powers of big tech companies last Friday, and… hang on… I’m getting word that the CEOs of those companies think that antitrust bills are actually a bad thing? And that their companies should just be left alone, with their unfettered power to build increasingly dominant monopolies completely intact? Interesting.
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook and other top tech executives have been aggressively lobbying lawmakers to reconsider their support for six new bills that represent the most comprehensive antitrust legislation introduced in Washington in recent memory. In a very recent call to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress, Cook reportedly claimed that the bills in question were rushed, and that they would stifle innovation and disrupt consumers’ lives by hobbling the services that power the company’s hugely popular iPhone.
Cook is not alone. Apparently, big tech CEOs really, really hate it when you try to shrink their dominance in key markets that include online commerce, advertising, media and entertainment, and the top executives at Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — the other companies caught in the legislation’s crosshairs — are not being shy about saying so.
In what the Times describes as a “rare” statement on pending legislation, Brian Huseman, Amazon’s top lobbyist, said that the bills in question “would have significant negative effects on the hundreds of thousands of American small- and medium-sized businesses that sell in our store and tens of millions of consumers who buy products from Amazon.” A spokesman for Facebook, Christopher Sgro, said that antitrust laws “should promote competition and protect consumers, not punish successful American companies.”
Democrats have been calling for a reduction of Big Tech’s powers for years now, with the position being perhaps most famously championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren during her ill-fated campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2019.
“Right now, unregulated tech monopolies have too much power over our economy,” said Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and chairman of the antitrust subcommittee. “They are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices on consumers and put folks out of work. Our agenda will level the playing field and ensure the wealthiest, most powerful tech monopolies play by the same rules as the rest of us.”