Apple and big tech lobbying fends off U.S. legislative efforts

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US legislative attempts to curb the power of the tech giants have failed, reportedly beaten by the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on lobbyists working for Apple, Amazon, Google, and Meta.

US Capitol. [Alejandro Barba]
US Capitol. [Alejandro Barba]


A last-minute and aggressive effort was made to include a pair of bills, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and the Open App Markets Act, in the end-of-year spending package on Monday, but one that ultimately failed. The package would've been the last real chance the bills had to pass in 2022.

The failure of the two bills has been put down to lobbying efforts working on the behalf of the group of tech giants, who didn't want the bills to pass through, according to Bloomberg. The effort included hefty spending, as well as having chief executives making appearances and pressure from trade groups.

The two antitrust bills had the potential to cause trouble for the tech giants, especially Apple. However, while they progressed further than others seeking reform have managed, they ultimately stalled at the final hurdle.

During the session, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Shumer didn't put the bills to the floor, under claims they didn't have enough votes, despite bill co-sponsors insisting they did.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would have prevented Apple and others from favoring their own services versus third parties. Meanwhile the Open App Markets Act would have prompted Apple to allow third-party app stores and sideloading to take place.

Heavy spending

Lobbyists have been hard at work trying to keep the bills, and similar ones, from passing. In September, it was reported that $95 million had been spent in lobbying against the bills.

"Big tech companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in a brazen attempt to thwart any progress on tech policy in Washington," said Jane Meyer, spokeswoman for Senator Amy Klobuchar (D), a bill sponsor. The co-sponsors of the bills "did not back down despite that onslaught."

More than $100 million had been spent on lobbying against the bills over two years, with more than $5 million donated to politicians and more than $1 million going to a PAC to defend a Democrat majority. Dark-money groups, trade associations, and others were also the targets of funding.

Of the big four, Meta spent the most on lobbying since 2021 at $35.6 million, followed by Amazon at $34.2 million, and Google at $17.8 million. Apple rounds out the list at $12.8 million.

Advertising campaigns valued at $130 million were deployed in swing states, implying that the parties would lose out if they supported the legislation. There were claims that services like Amazon Prime and Google's search would be destroyed by the bills, among others.

The ads worked in helping delay putting the bills to the floor before elections.

Apple's spending involved paying the Taxpayers Protection Alliance to make the "App Security Project," arguing the bills would open smartphones up to hacking and spying. Meanwhile, CEO Tim Cook joined his counterparts in meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"There has been very forceful lobbying against this legislation," said Chris Coons (D), an ally of President Joe Biden. "Every one of us has seen dozens and dozens of TV ads, emails, social media posts," he added, and that he also sympathized with tech leader concerns about U.S. competitiveness with China.

Hope continues on

Despite the failure to put the bills up for the vote, there is still hope from advocates that changes will eventually occur.

"Big tech is delaying the inevitable, and the bigger fight continues," said the Economic Security Project's Alex Harman. The giants haven't won, but rather "they are just losing in slow motion."

They may get their wish in the future, at least based on what's happened in Europe.

After the introduction there of the Digital Markets Act, which affects Apple's App Store and payments systems among others, Apple is reportedly working in preparation of when it will be forced to do so.

If a continent like Europe is open to forcing Apple into enabling third-party app stores on the iPhone, there's always a chance that the U.S. could follow suit eventually.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,722member
    Nothing really helping the 99% of society tech wise will come from congress unless you attach porn to it. :smile: 
    beowulfschmidtjony0
  • Reply 2 of 15
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,113member
    The problem with legislative activities is money. Who's paying off the legislators to support their efforts. What have the done about big oil or big tobacco? What about the banks? Too big to fail is not the way to do business in Congress. GM should not be a company anyone but taxpayers continue to prop it up. Medicare/medical for all is not being supported because corporations, especially insurance companies, want to keep their pot of money. The Big Tech fallacy only supports companies that don't want to pay taxes or the right to use another company's products. The consumers don't care and they're the ones getting stiffed.
    FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 15
    1) Warren Buffet (a man who would know) says that Apple is one of the best-run companies on the planet.

    2) Apple is consistently tops in customer satisfaction, year after year, decade after decade.

    So an interesting question for me is 'who do these legislators represent?'  It's not Apple shareholders.  It's not the billions of Apple customers.

    Sounds like special interests.  If so, I'm not sure I feel bad that they lost - even if I'm not happy about big-money lobbying.
    edited December 2022 jas99lkruppFileMakerFellerdewmebaconstangKTRwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 15
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,158member
    Agree with the above, the crime of Apple seems to be that it is Big & most Americans can care less about their inability to side load their apps.

    Online criminality, spams, hacks, privacy leaks seem like the real tech concerns that most Americans have.

    Or when it comes to monopoly power—what about Google search and YouTube video delivery?  Or the stranglehold your local ISP has to charge whatever it wants?

    Or duopoly power—what about Mastercard & Visa?
    iOS_Guy80FileMakerFellerbaconstangJaiOh81watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 15
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,708member
    I don’t fault Apple or Google, they are just playing the game.
    I blame those that won’t fix the game.

    FileMakerFellerJaiOh81watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 15
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,489member
    Alrescha said:
    1) Warren Buffet (a man who would know) says that Apple is one of the best-run companies on the planet.

    2) Apple is consistently tops in customer satisfaction, year after year, decade after decade.

    So an interesting question for me is 'who do these legislators represent?'  It's not Apple shareholders.  It's not the billions of Apple customers.

    Sounds like special interests.  If so, I'm not sure I feel bad that they lost - even if I'm not happy about big-money lobbying.
    Absolutely. It’s the disgruntled few that are stirring the pot and making the most noise while claiming they represent the majority. The vast majority of both users and developers are perfectly happy with the way Apple runs its business. I know I am. 
    mdwmike1FileMakerFellerdewmebaconstangJaiOh81watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 15
    badmonk said:
    Agree with the above, the crime of Apple seems to be that it is Big
    I suspect that Apple's true crime is that they are good - and like the kid who always gets high marks on tests, they get beat up after school.
    mdwmike1FileMakerFellerbaconstangJaiOh81watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 15
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,902moderator
    Alrescha said:
    So an interesting question for me is 'who do these legislators represent?'  It's not Apple shareholders.  It's not the billions of Apple customers.

    Sounds like special interests.  If so, I'm not sure I feel bad that they lost - even if I'm not happy about big-money lobbying.
    They represent the corrupt companies that Apple is keeping in check - Facebook and other ad companies that want to track everything people do; Epic and other game companies (including gambling companies) who want to monetize players, including children, however much they can; the fake crypto and banking providers that want to make scam apps to drain people's wallets; the adult content companies; the malware companies followed by the anti-malware companies; the payment, social media and gaming companies in China who want to lock Western companies out of their country like they do with Google.

    These companies have been so used to getting away with what they want on open platforms, many are blind to how evil they've become and just assume that because it sells, it's justified.

    This kind of legislation would be redundant in the West anyway. Android has 3rd party stores and nobody uses them because they are hives of malware with not enough redeeming features to justify using them.

    People make the comparison that if the Mac was locked down, much fewer people would use Macs. That's probably true but multiple billions of people happily use their secured phones and aren't seeking out a less secure alternative. There's a reason phones are trusted for banking apps because they are secure and reliable. On mobile, security and reliability beats adding minor flexibility.
    FileMakerFellerdewmebaconstangdanoxJaiOh81williamlondonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 9 of 15
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,189member
    A huge "THANK GOODNESS!" from every American who holds AAPL in their investment portfolio (which includes everyday Americans, not simply billionaires)!  

    Indirectly harming AAPL (as if it hasn't been harmed enough but the market itself in 2022) through silly Legislative action harms everyone who holds the stock.
    Madbumwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 15
    JP234JP234 Posts: 1,072member
    Thus proving that Americans have the best government money can buy!
    JaiOh81watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 15
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 887member
    Technology directives from a group who can barely manage an email account, if that?

    thrte are plenty of choices out there for a customer who doesn’t like Apple’s system. 
    JaiOh81watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 15
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,722member
    badmonk said:
    Agree with the above, the crime of Apple seems to be that it is Big & most Americans can care less about their inability to side load their apps.

    Online criminality, spams, hacks, privacy leaks seem like the real tech concerns that most Americans have.

    Or when it comes to monopoly power—what about Google search and YouTube video delivery?  Or the stranglehold your local ISP has to charge whatever it wants?

    Or duopoly power—what about Mastercard & Visa?
    Or TicketMaster?
    JaiOh81watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 13 of 15
    “Democracy”

     :/ 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 15
    JP234JP234 Posts: 1,072member
    s.metcalf said:
    “Democracy”

     :/ 
    It's called "plutocracy" not democracy.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 15
    The bills were stupid and was backed by many Europeans companies and Chinese companies. Apple should not be included with Meta and old Twitter . Those companies are  basically  an arm of one political party as we have seen with what Musk has released .

    Apple being able to control its own App Store has to do with that how? Stupid bull by stupid politicians 
    watto_cobrajony0
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