Businesses have stark differences of opinion on proposed anti-Big Tech bills

Posted:
in General Discussion
Two groups both claiming to represent small business interests in the United States have each released open letters, one urging Congress to leave big tech alone as it gives a platform to businesses that might not get one -- and one supporting the bill.




Following Apple's assertion that proposed antitrust bills would hurt consumers and security, two groups have written to Congress about the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. Both represent small businesses, both believe the proposals will harm their members, and each completely disagrees with the other.

One group consists of "more than 35" technology firms, including Yelp, Sonos, and DuckDuckGo. In its full letter to Congress, this group says that the Act would "help restore competition in the digital marketplace and remove barriers for consumers to choose the services they want."

"For too long, dominant technology companies have made it difficult for other businesses to compete in the digital marketplace by abusing their gatekeeper status to give themselves and their partners preferential treatment and access on their platforms," continues the letter. "The Committee must act now to restore competition to the digital marketplace by voting 'aye' on favorably reporting Senate Bill S. 2992, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act."

Meanwhile, a group represented by the Connected Commerce Council (3C) claims that "nearly 7,000 small businesses sent more than 20,000 letters" urging Congress to oppose the bill.

"For over a year Congress has ignored small businesses' concerns about recklessly ramming through sweeping anti-technology legislation," 3C executive director Rob Retzlaff said in a statement. "Small businesses shouldn't have to beg their elected officials to listen to them."

"Yet, here we are because certain lawmakers are more concerned about scoring political points than doing their jobs," continued Retzlaff. "They seemingly are listening to conscience-stricken tech industry billionaires who favor misguided legislation rather than small business taxpayers who live in their districts and employ their constituents."

Contrasting business interests

The letter from the group supporting the legislation lists its 35 members, while that from 3C opposing it does not. AppleInsider checking of 3C's membership businesses shows a stark discrepancy between the two groups.

Firms on the list supporting the legislation tend to be multinational companies, with valuations in the high millions or billions, such as Yelp and Sonos. The 3C member groups that AppleInsider checked are all vastly smaller, and include single-owner firms that began as Etsy shops.

Separately, Senator Amy Klobuchar, who introduced the act, has argued that it is time that US law "caught up to a major, major part of our economy."

Congress is expected to consider the American Innovation and Choice Online Act very soon, and may also debate the related Open App Markets Act.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,911member
    “For too long, dominant technology companies have made it difficult for other businesses to compete in the digital marketplace by abusing their gatekeeper status to give themselves and their partners preferential treatment and access on their platforms," Apple is not the leading manufacturer of mobile phones. Consumers choose things based on many factors but I feel most iPhone users buy them because they simply work, providing a safe environment. Why do competitors feel they are owed access to things another company makes? It’s obvious these people have nothing to compete with Apple on so they try and litigate instead of providing a better product. 
    iOS_Guy80viclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 9
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,035member
    I am kind of surprise that small business would argue not to change anything, and that big tech is doing what is in the best interests of small business. 

    But it only 7000 of the more than 3 million small businesses in the US. I would suspect that 0.2% of all the small businesses do not represent the larger population. Again it is small loud minority making everyone think they represent everyone.
    darkvader
  • Reply 3 of 9
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,035member
    rob53 said:
    “For too long, dominant technology companies have made it difficult for other businesses to compete in the digital marketplace by abusing their gatekeeper status to give themselves and their partners preferential treatment and access on their platforms," Apple is not the leading manufacturer of mobile phones. Consumers choose things based on many factors but I feel most iPhone users buy them because they simply work, providing a safe environment. Why do competitors feel they are owed access to things another company makes? It’s obvious these people have nothing to compete with Apple on so they try and litigate instead of providing a better product. 
    Apple argument is from the view point of the App Store, nothing more. I would agree Apple produces the better mouse trap and competitors are trying to find any way including regulation to break the tight relationship Apple has with their customers. I would argue Apple solution is mostly good not bad for the consumer. However, this is more broad reaching and it going after facebook, google and such which do not necessary have the better mouse trap but controls how you use the mouse trap.

    Everyone is coming at this from different directions, the big guy do not want to be broken up since the want complete control over your information, they want the complete picture, Apple does to care about your information, they just do not want to share their technology with third parties which is what they will have to do it Apple is broken into hardware, software, and separate services business. 
    darkvaderviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 9
    When they say "restore" competition to the digital marketplace, what are they referencing? Is there a past time period for digital products that they consider to be more competitive than today? It can't be anything that existed prior to smartphones because smartphones lowered the expected price for software used by mainstream consumers. That's one of the realities that makes the Senate approach so nonsensical. If competition is worse in the smartphone era, why are prices lower than when software was only available on desktop/laptop hardware? 
    rob53thtviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 9
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,847member
    I'm not sure I have the answers, but I do think action needs to be taken to address Big Tech's power.  The problem is behemoths like Google, Facebook and Amazon have used their dominant positions to stifle competition, speech and even influence elections.  Apple may have some issues with its App Store, but I largely put it in another class.  Moreover, you have companies like Twitter who are clearly acting as authoritarian ideologues, and are violating the spirit of Section 230.   

    There are few major actions I think that were should consider:  

    1.  Break-up Google, Facebook and Amazon.  Google (Alphabet) should not be able to use its search dominance to dominate other areas, such as Video Sharing and Maps.  Facebook should not be able to use its vast data tribe and infiltration of the entire web to dominate other business areas and prevent competition in the social media sphere.  Amazon should not be able to use AWS to stifle competition in a number of areas, from online shopping to web services, to platforms they simply don't like.  These companies have become far too powerful.  Time to get out the Sherman Hammer.  

    2.  Reform Section 230.  Make it clear that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other large socials are common carriers.  That is, they cannot discriminate against content by acting as publishers.  If they do, they can be sued civilly by both private parties and the government.  These mammoth platforms have become the new public square.  They should only be able to block or downgrade content that is illegal, contains specific threats, etc.   

    3.  The FEC needs to be strengthened and needs to get involved in the impact of these large companies on elections.  Facebook and Google openly boast about their ability to push voter turnout in some areas but not others, suppress news stories, and more.  Privately, the CEO of Facebook spent almost half a billion dollars on the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which awarded grants to mostly Democratic areas for turnout and running elections.  In many areas, 90% of the money went to one side.  The privatization of our elections cannot be allowed, and should be a clear violation of campaign finance laws.   
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 9
    maestro64 said:
    I am kind of surprise that small business would argue not to change anything, and that big tech is doing what is in the best interests of small business. 

    But it only 7000 of the more than 3 million small businesses in the US. I would suspect that 0.2% of all the small businesses do not represent the larger population. Again it is small loud minority making everyone think they represent everyone.
    And 35 is just how much more representative?
    uraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 9
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,989member
    Like always, it boils down to politics.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 9
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,035member
    trackeroz said:
    maestro64 said:
    I am kind of surprise that small business would argue not to change anything, and that big tech is doing what is in the best interests of small business. 

    But it only 7000 of the more than 3 million small businesses in the US. I would suspect that 0.2% of all the small businesses do not represent the larger population. Again it is small loud minority making everyone think they represent everyone.
    And 35 is just how much more representative?
    35 of the top 500 is better % then what is being put forward by small company. Plus more small companies have very narrow scope or view point. They may not always look at thing in the broader sense. Yes they like google since they consolidate all their business activities through googles products/service since it made their lives simpler and they did not care if google knows everything about them. What they may not realize google is selling the knowledge to the competitor down the street.

    I can guarantee one of the reason the large companies when they broken up and this may or may not be explicitly stated or written down, but it goes back the Epic case its about profit margins, no companies want to share its profits with another company especially one which may using their business information against them. 
  • Reply 9 of 9
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,035member
    sdw2001 said:
    I'm not sure I have the answers, but I do think action needs to be taken to address Big Tech's power.  The problem is behemoths like Google, Facebook and Amazon have used their dominant positions to stifle competition, speech and even influence elections.  Apple may have some issues with its App Store, but I largely put it in another class.  Moreover, you have companies like Twitter who are clearly acting as authoritarian ideologues, and are violating the spirit of Section 230.   

    There are few major actions I think that were should consider:  

    1.  Break-up Google, Facebook and Amazon.  Google (Alphabet) should not be able to use its search dominance to dominate other areas, such as Video Sharing and Maps.  Facebook should not be able to use its vast data tribe and infiltration of the entire web to dominate other business areas and prevent competition in the social media sphere.  Amazon should not be able to use AWS to stifle competition in a number of areas, from online shopping to web services, to platforms they simply don't like.  These companies have become far too powerful.  Time to get out the Sherman Hammer.  

    2.  Reform Section 230.  Make it clear that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other large socials are common carriers.  That is, they cannot discriminate against content by acting as publishers.  If they do, they can be sued civilly by both private parties and the government.  These mammoth platforms have become the new public square.  They should only be able to block or downgrade content that is illegal, contains specific threats, etc.   

    3.  The FEC needs to be strengthened and needs to get involved in the impact of these large companies on elections.  Facebook and Google openly boast about their ability to push voter turnout in some areas but not others, suppress news stories, and more.  Privately, the CEO of Facebook spent almost half a billion dollars on the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which awarded grants to mostly Democratic areas for turnout and running elections.  In many areas, 90% of the money went to one side.  The privatization of our elections cannot be allowed, and should be a clear violation of campaign finance laws.   

    First I agree with your assessment of the situation, personally I do not believe most people understand everything that is going on and all the down stream effects of what these companies are doing. I am of the option most of these companies never started out to be what they are today. What they mean is they never stated in their business plans or strategic plans they were to stifle competition and innovation especially to censor information. I think people with in those companies realize what they could do and it got abused both internally and external.

    When I did my Master, I took a class called Technology and Public Policy. It was taught by one of the topic researchers at the Federal government who work for DARPA, NIST and NSA at the time. This was very interesting class is it talked about the government's rolls in technology and how it can uses regulations to controls what direction technology development will heads. We discussed how sometimes the government and private sectors work hand and hand and get it right and how it totally misses the boat. At the time Microsoft/Netscape issue was going on and when the government step in since it saw it would not be good if Microsoft control all access to the internet. This was actually very clear cut cases, and Microsoft at the time specially Bill Gates made the situation far worse for MS and thus the reason the government came down hard on them.

    However, today it is less about the researchers and scientists looking at this stuff and providing their best analysis on what direction we should be heading and then solicitating inputs from all side to create the laws and regulations. We now have politicians getting involved not about creating regulations but how they can use technology to further their agenda's. The tech companies were seeing this all going on and decided to by pass the process that has worked for a long time and go direct to ensuring those who agree with them get elected. Because of this we now have a government with one group saying big tech is not doing enough to stop what they deem as "misinformation" (they use this word since it mean information they do not want shared no matter if it factually correct or not) and on the other side you have people saying big tech has gone too far. No one is talking about should any information be filtered, if so what policy should be used to set the filters all companies must follow.

    Tech companies never thought that same people they helped elected would them come after them. They should have expected this once the person is on power the first thing they much do is set an example so everyone else falls in line. This is what you are seeing playing out, they telling Big tech do what they say or else we will shut you down.


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