As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to review new antitrust proposals, the Big Tech titans are working to undermine support for the bills that could damage their market power.
The judiciary committee is reviewing two proposals on Thursday: the Open App Markets Act, which intends to foster competition with Apple and Google’s app stores, and the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which seeks to block Big Tech companies from giving preference to their products and disadvantaging competitors.
Kent Walker, Google’s global affairs and chief legal officer, said legislation debated by Congress will “break” its search, maps and email services and give foreign companies an edge. Mr. Walker did not name the specific bills his company opposes in his scathing post on the company’s blog.
“We’re deeply concerned about these unintended consequences,” Mr. Walker wrote. “Antitrust law is about ensuring that companies are competing hard to build their best products for consumers. But the vague and sweeping provisions of these bills would break popular products that help consumers and small businesses, only to benefit a handful of companies who brought their pleas to Washington.”
Apple wrote to lawmakers in opposition to the bills and argued that the legislation would make it more difficult for Apple to protect the privacy and security of Americans’ devices, according to Bloomberg.
“These bills would impose one set of rules on American companies while giving a pass to foreign companies,” Mr. Walker wrote.
Big Tech’s defenders in the advocacy realm are targeting senators, too. The watchdog group Taxpayers Protection Alliance, which is aligned on antitrust policy with Google, said Wednesday that it was spending close to $2 million on ads opposing the legislation, and the ads are focused on 17 senators.
“China wants to beat America. The anti-tech agenda in Washington will kneecap our economy, weaken our national security, and help China win,” said a narrator in one 15-second ad. “Tell Congress to oppose these dangerous laws. Tell them to fight for American technology and America’s security.”
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance is identified by Google on its September 2021 list of groups that “receive the most substantial contributions from Google’s U.S. Public Policy and Government Affairs team.”
Also on Google’s list is the Connected Commerce Council, which said Wednesday that it is opposed to the legislation. The council said nearly 7,000 small businesses sent more than 20,000 letters to lawmakers opposing the legislation that the council thinks would force its partners, Google and Amazon, to change their operations in a way that harms small businesses.
Google’s competitors are also writing to Congress but in support of the legislation. DuckDuckGo and You.com, which are rivals to Google’s search product, were among the companies signing on to a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging passage of the law.
“Dominant technologies companies’ ability to give their own products and services preferential placement, access and data on online platforms and operating systems prevents companies like us from competing on the merits,” the companies wrote. “For example, due to their gatekeeper status, dominant technology companies can: use manipulative design tactics to steer individuals away from rival services; restrict the ability of competitors to interoperate on the platform; use non-public data to benefit the companies’ own services or products; make it impossible or complicated for users to change their default settings or services or uninstall apps.”
The companies said that such tactics harm not only themselves as competitors but consumers as well.