Technology

What Congress Wants From Big Tech

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First there was a lot shouting. And now there’s motion. (Maybe.)

The dangerous temper concerning the energy of Big Tech firms has a brand new and maybe shocking improvement: House lawmakers wrote a bundle of proposed laws that, if all of it passes — a really massive “if” — may essentially change Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple as we all know them.


I requested my colleague Cecilia Kang to stroll us via the payments, and the way we acquired right here.

Shira: What does this laws suggest to do?

Cecilia: There are six payments that in numerous methods try and restrict the facility of massive tech firms. One bill to supply extra funding to authorities companies that maintain a test on companies isn’t that contentious.

That helped to cement a largely bipartisan consensus — though not all the time for shared causes — that Washington wanted to be much less hands-off with technology firms. And antitrust legislation is now perceived as a method to deal with a set of perceived issues with tech, together with for some Republicans perceptions of bias in opposition to conservative voices and views.

Did Big Tech firms mess up and create too many enemies in Washington, or was it inevitable that they might be focused for brand new legal guidelines and regulation?

Both. From my conversations with lobbyists at massive tech firms, there’s some remorse that the businesses misjudged how a lot good will that they had with politicians and regulators. And tech firms’ Washington coverage workplaces could not have absolutely articulated to their bosses on the West Coast how a lot lawmakers had turned in opposition to Big Tech.

But look, a handful of technology firms are probably the most worthwhile firms within the nation and affect the financial system, labor practices, how folks discover data and the methods we stay. That exposes the businesses to scrutiny.

How are the businesses responding to those payments?

Their central message is that lawmakers danger creating way more issues than they may clear up. Apple says, for instance, that folks can be uncovered to sketchy apps if Congress requires the company to let folks obtain iPhone apps exterior its official retailer. Lobbyists have said that Amazon is likely to be pressured to cease Prime supply for some merchandise.

Is there a united entrance amongst Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple?

Not essentially. There are some disagreements about coverage. Facebook appears open to one of the proposals that may make it simpler for folks to take their knowledge from one app to a competitor. Google is in opposition to it, and says it exposes folks to scammers.

There’s additionally visceral anger. Quite a couple of tech firms, not simply the most important ones, resent Facebook for what they consider the company has finished to tarnish all the business. A lobbyist instructed me that it’s tough for Facebook to push again in opposition to antitrust laws after many scandals. Apple, which is at odds with Facebook in nearly each approach, is successfully lobbying lawmakers on behalf of it and Facebook.

Sorry for the cynicism, however what if Big Tech simply waited for divisions and fighting amongst lawmakers to kill the laws?

Are you certain you haven’t labored in lobbying?! That’s a basic technique and it’s not an illogical wager that Congress received’t get its act collectively. But these antitrust payments, particularly those that make acquisitions harder or would drive firms to tug aside their companies, are existential threats to Big Tech. The firms should combat them.


  • A center class retirement account, at $5 billion: ProPublica examines how ultrawealthy Americans together with Peter Thiel, a distinguished investor in younger tech firms, amassed multi-billion-dollar, tax-free fortunes in what are alleged to be retirement accounts for these with way more modest financial savings.

  • Can e-commerce giants assist India’s shopkeepers? The 20 million small shops in India referred to as kiranas dominate buying within the nation. Bloomberg News reviews that Amazon and the Walmart-owned e-commerce website Flipkart are teaming up with the shops — together with offering them with stock administration apps and utilizing the shops to ship deliveries — to promote extra merchandise in Indian communities.

  • Dr. Reddit? Wired writes {that a} Reddit forum called DiagnoseMe, the place folks ask strangers for medical recommendation, just isn’t as dangerous because it sounds. DiagnoseMe is kind of good at policing itself and encourages folks to advocate for themselves within the generally hostile well being care system.

Why did mother duck and her ducklings cross the highway? To go to a bagel shop. (They later made their approach safely to a park.)



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