A high-profile move by Congress to rein in America’s largest Internet companies is in danger of collapsing as time is running out to pass key legislation ahead of the midterm elections.
The Google, Apple, Amazon and lphabet meta platforms and their trade groups have lobbied nearly $95 million since 2021 to derail America’s Innovation and Choice Online Act, which is further advanced than any US legislative effort to address the market power of some of the world’s wealthiest companies.
After a nearly two-year struggle, the bill is now at a critical juncture as the Senate returns this week for one final leg before the midterms in November.
Supporters of the measure swear they have the necessary votes, but it’s unclear if they do, and the Senate will be busy with other spending bills that need to be passed.
The view that momentum for the law is fading is based on conversations with nearly two dozen of its supporters and critics — including policy pundits, lobbyists, congressional aides and proponents. A Hill associate summed it up as a pivotal moment.
“If supporters of this bill had enough votes, it wouldn’t be a bill, it would be law,” said Matt Schruers, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which represents big tech companies.
Failure would be a setback for politicians, activists and regulators who argue that Silicon Valley has too much control over people’s lives. It would be a big win for Big Tech, which has argued the measure would weaken privacy, threaten national security and degrade products consumers enjoy.
Though clipping the wings of tech giants through antitrust reform has been supported by both Republicans and Democrats during this Congress, a likely GOP majority in the House of Representatives next year is likely to focus on allegations that internet platforms are stifling conservative viewpoints.
Because of this, tech lobbyists have tried to time out. Leading Republicans like California’s Kevin McCarthy, who is on track to become speaker under a GOP majority, have publicly opposed the antitrust push.
Legislative sponsors can see the window narrow. Antitrust advocates expected a vote before Congress adjourned for four weeks in August.
Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, who introduced the bill along with Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, expressed confidence that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will put the proposal to the ultimate test by asking senators to vote on it now.
“Once this bill goes to the vote, we are confident that it will pass,” Ms Klobuchar said.
The bill has 13 co-sponsors in the Senate, where it would need 60 votes to pass and be sent to the House of Representatives. Proponents like Luther Lowe, public policy director at Yelp and longtime Google critic, argue that if the measure gets a say, enough undecided lawmakers will vote for it.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/big-tech-firms-like-amazon-apple-and-google-have-thrown-95m-at-holding-back-us-regulation-41967211.html Big tech companies like Amazon, Apple and Google have spent $95 million to withhold US regulation