by Ailan Evans
Two conservative tech advocacy groups sent a letter to House lawmakers criticizing former national security officials for attempting to prevent the passage of antitrust bills targeting Big Tech.
The letter, sent by the Internet Accountability Project (IAP) and the American Principles Project (APP) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy along with lawmakers responsible for overseeing antitrust legislation, urged Congress to pass six bills targeting major tech companies advanced beyond the House Judiciary Committee in June. The letter also criticized twelve former intelligence officials who sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy arguing against the passage of antitrust bills in mid-September.
The twelve former intelligence officials warned that breaking up Big Tech could make the U.S. less competitive with China and compromise America’s national security. Every single member of the group, including former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, had noteworthy financial ties to major tech companies “from working with them directly or serving with organizations that get money from them,” according to Politico.
The IAP and APP told lawmakers that the tech companies’ size and anticompetitive business practices were a greater threat to American’s competitiveness with China than the antitrust bills.
“We disagree with the premise that restoring competition to the American digital sector will harm our national security,” the groups wrote. “By allowing these companies to become monopolies, we have given China a competitive advantage because all it must do is gain control over one key input these companies need, and they will be forced to look out for Chinese interests over America’s.”
The groups cited several instances of tech companies investing and doing business with China, including Amazon’s contract with Chinese technology company Dahua that had been blacklisted by the U.S. over human rights concerns, and Google’s scrapped plans to launch a censored version of its search engine in China.
The groups also questioned the former national security officials’ motivations for attempting to stop the passage of the antitrust bills.
“Big Tech’s paid allies are actively and aggressively lobbying Congress, making every argument under the sun to stop overwhelmingly popular reforms to rein in Big Tech’s monopolistic practices,” Mike Davis, Founder and President of the Internet Accountability Project, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Their driving motivation is profit, and that’s why they’re trying so hard to stop bipartisan legislation making its way through Congress.”
The antitrust bills aim to promote greater competition in digital markets by increasing data portability, making it harder for tech companies to acquire competitors and preventing platforms from prioritizing their own services. The former national security officials argued the bills would “degrade critical R&D priorities, allow foreign competitors to displace leaders in the U.S. tech sector both at home and abroad, and potentially put sensitive U.S. data and IP in the hands of Beijing.”
The IAP and APP argued that the antitrust bills would improve American companies’ innovation and fortify the U.S. tech sector’s position in global markets by further enabling and incentivizing competition.
“Preventing already-dominant Big Tech firms from swallowing what remains of their competition, will spur innovation and restore incentives for entrepreneurs to found startups,” the groups’ letter read.
While the House has yet to debate the antitrust bills, lawmakers in the Senate are working on companion legislation. The bills have significant bipartisan support, with Republicans such as Reps. Ken Buck and Lance Gooden, along with Sens. Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton, working with Democrats including Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. David Cicilline, to pass the antitrust package.
“These bills will ensure America can be the force for good that it has been for the past 245 years,” the IAP and APP wrote.
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Ailan Evans is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Amazon” by Ivan Radic. CC BY 2.0.