As Senate lawmakers embark on a final, urgent push to pass landmark antitrust legislation to reshape the tech industry, Big Tech is bringing out its heaviest hitters to influence the politicians whose votes could decide the bill’s fate.
Next week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai is expected to travel to Washington to meet with US lawmakers, two people familiar with the plans said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The visit is being treated with utmost confidentiality due to the charged implications and conversation, which has turned hostile to perceived Big Tech abuses in recent years.
Pichai’s trip comes after Apple CEO Tim Cook was spotted roaming the Senate last week. It also follows a report by Politico that Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has directly called multiple members of Congress to express opposition to the bill. In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson told CNN that Jassy “meets with policymakers on both sides of the aisle regarding policy issues that could affect our customers.” The frequency and results of these meetings, however, is not yet clear.
Opposition from Congress and agency regulators in the US government has quickly grown over the past few years, as Big Tech firms increased their influence and presence during the global shutdown caused by the COVID-19 health emergency. Letters from the DOJ, for instance, have said the agency “views the rise of dominant platforms as presenting a threat to open markets and competition,” adding that letting those platforms “pick winners and losers” with their outsized power “puts at risk the nation’s economic progress and prosperity…”
The CEOs’ hands-on engagement highlights the stakes of the next few months for the tech industry in Washington.
Congress is considering multiple antitrust bills, beginning with legislation led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Chuck Grassley that could erect strict barriers between a tech giant’s various lines of business. The proposal represents a direct challenge to Big Tech’s business models that encourage consumers to use multiple interlocking services owned by the same company.
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