It seems the big technology companies are running scared. According to a report by The New York Times, they have ramped up their lobbying efforts into the stratosphere at all levels of government, and Tim Cook is even personally calling politicians – most prominently, Nancy Pelosi.
The calls by Mr. Cook are part of a forceful and wide-ranging pushback by the tech industry since the proposals were announced this month. Executives, lobbyists, and more than a dozen think tanks and advocacy groups paid by tech companies have swarmed Capitol offices, called and emailed lawmakers and their staff members, and written letters arguing there will be dire consequences for the industry and the country if the ideas become law.
The bills, the most sweeping set of antitrust legislation in generations, take aim at Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google by trying to undo their dominance in online commerce, advertising, media and entertainment. There are six bills in total, and if passed, they would empower regulators, make it harder for the tech giants to acquire start-ups and prevent the companies from using their strength in one area to form a grip in another.
Apple also published a 16 page PR document today, warning that the world will end if Apple is forced to allow sideloading or third party application stores on iOS. Of course, this is all nonsense, as the only thing Apple worries about is the protection money it extracts that makes up the vast majority of its services push that it uses to please investors. Nobody is going to break into iOS users’ homes and force them to sideload – don’t sideload if you don’t want to, but the rest of us should be allowed to do whatever we want with the devices we paid money for.
Another major reason Apple is running is scared is that if it has to allow sideloading, the company will lose the control over its platform that is so coveted by Apple’s closest friends and allies, the totalitarian governments of this world. China, Saudi-Arabia, Russia, and others are weaponising Apple’s walled garden, and if that wall is cracked open, Apple is suddenly no longer as valuable to totalitarian governments. This would hurt Apple’s bottom line significantly.
Amazon and Google also have a lot to lose, of course. Google controls most of the advertising market and any measures to lessen that control will be a major blow to the company’s bottom line. Amazon, for its part, abuses the data it collects about buyers and sellers to create their own products and delist their competitors, which has become a cornerstone of the company’s strategy.
The fact they are running scared bodes well for the contents of these proposed bills, but at the same time, it also means a lot of bribes are flowing towards Washington, and American politicians are nothing if not deeply, systematically corrupt and easily bought.