Arguments against the potential break-up of Big Tech corporations are undermined by the companies' willingness to comply with authoritarian governments such as China and Russia, bipartisan lawmakers say.
Big Tech leaders have said bipartisan House antitrust bills focused on regulating and breaking up the companies could pose a national security risk. Congressional Republicans, however, say the tech companies are being hypocritical, the Washington Examiner reported Wednesday.
Google and Apple last week removed a voting app created by allies of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny after being pressured by the country's government.
"The Big Tech companies are in bed with China and Russia, they lobby on behalf of China," a legislative staffer for Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., told the Examiner.
The staffer cited Apple's lobbying last year against sanctions regarding the Chinese genocide of the Uyghurs, and Google having created censored search engines for China.
"So the notion that these national security concerns they express are sincere is just preposterous," the staffer said. "All of this is just a ploy from Big Tech to try to convince Republicans not to crack down on their monopolistic behavior."
Last week, former top intelligence community officials from multiple administrations and both parties sent a letter to Congressional leaders arguing against the House antitrust bills. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats were among the officials.
"Congress risks undermining America’s key advantage vis-à-vis China by pursuing domestic legislation that threatens to impede U.S. companies and their ability to pursue such innovation," the officials wrote.
Cotton's staffer, though, said some of the former intelligence officials have ties to Big Tech.
"I think what's new is they paid some national security folks to try to make the same argument, and they don't just appear out of thin air," the staffer told the Examiner. "It's not like Leon Panetta is reading the news and all of a sudden said, 'Boy, I'm pretty concerned about this antitrust legislation, I better contact my friends to write a letter.'
"The letter was written by those funded Big Tech and their allies. So, I don't think any member of Congress is taking it seriously. Anyone who is inclined to crack down on Big Tech is not going to be persuaded by Leon Panetta making this argument."
The staffer added that Cotton will be the lead sponsor on a bill focused on reducing anti-competitive mergers.
Democrats also have said Big Tech’s arguments against the antitrust bills are deceitful.
"This is one of the oldest tricks in the book to confuse these issues of competition and national security. It's the same thing the companies have been saying for years," a senior Democrat staffer told the Examiner.
"Our markets are monopolized, which is bad for innovation and national security. How can you compete with China if you can’t compete in the U.S. itself?"
Facebook and Google are among tech giants who have expressed concern about government regulation or breaking up the companies.
"When I brought up the Chinese internet companies, I think that that’s a real — a real strategic and competitive threat that, in American technology policy, we should be thinking about," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during his Senate testimony in 2018.
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