Shocker: Apple-backed nonprofits don’t like antitrust bills targeting Big Tech

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Tim Cook will testify before a congressional antitrust subcommittee this week.
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Photo: Mark Mathosian/Flickr CC

To the surprise of roughly no-one, Apple doesn’t like the spate of anti-Big Tech antitrust bills being proposed in the United States.

In a letter sent Monday, a number of nonprofits — including ones connected to Apple, such as TechNet, the Consumer Technology Alliance, and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation — urged the House Judiciary Committee to reject the bills.

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Members of the House Judiciary Committee:

At a time when voters are looking to Congress to address the country’s most pressing challenges, it seems hard to believe that Congress is instead on the verge of banning Amazon Prime and Amazon Basics; banning the preinstallation of iMessage and FaceTime on iPhones; and banning Google from including Google Maps in its search results.

We share your goal of promoting competition online and protecting consumers, but legislation proposed by Reps. David Cicilline and Pramila Jayapal would dramatically degrade services which hundreds of millions of Americans use every day.

Both Rep. Cicilline’s “American Innovation and Choice Online Act” and Rep. Jayapal’s “Ending Platform Monopolies Act” would prevent Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft from offering integrated tech conveniences to consumers.

In addition to the impacts above, Rep. Cicilline’s bill would ban Google from displaying YouTube videos in search results; ban Alexa users from ordering goods from Amazon; block Apple from preinstalling “Find My Phone” and iCloud on the iPhone; ban Xbox’s Games Store from coming with the Xbox; and ban Instagram stories from Facebook’s news feed.

Rep. Jayapal’s bill would force free apps like Google Maps, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, LinkedIn, iMessage, and FaceTime to be divested from their parent companies, putting at risk these free services and making them less accessible to the public.

We believe that voters want Congress to fix things that are broken — not break or ban things that they feel are working well. We strongly encourage you to reject these proposals.

Big Tech hits back

As arguments go, it’s not the strongest. It is, in essence, a take on the relative privation fallacy: basically, that since a worse problem exists (“the country’s most pressing challenges”), the government shouldn’t be trying to solve issues related to the Big Tech.

It might just work, though. Big Tech spends a considerable amount lobbying each year, although Apple spends less than most. Nonetheless, under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple’s overall lobbying spend has increased. For example, in one three-month period last year, Apple spent $1.56 million on lobbying fees. Issues Apple is particularly vocal about include patent reform, the environment, tax breaks on semiconductor fabrication, and autonomous vehicles.

Personally, I think there are certainly some issues related to Big Tech the government should be examining. No company with the resources of today’s tech giants should be beyond scrutiny. But calls for, for instance, the iPhone to be robbed of its default apps sound like they may not be the answer that will actually make customers’ lives better.

Do you think Big Tech is in need of antitrust scrutiny?

Source: Progress Chamber

Via: Apple Insider