Monday, December 11, 2023

Tech Billionaires Seen Lobbying in US Capitol Ahead of Antitrust Legislation

'We have not addressed the threat to our democracy, the threat to free speech that big tech poses...'

(Ezekiel Loseke, Headline USA) Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Apple CEO Tim Cook were among the Big Tech oligarchs spotted roaming the halls of the US Capitol this week, according to the Western Journal, which cited tweets from reporters at The Hill and NBC News.

While neither Gates nor Cook has given a public statement on the reason for visiting lawmakers, Bloomberg News reported that the visits coincided with a barrage of “high-stakes” lobbyist activity from large tech firms.

Indeed, the first three months of 2022 saw Apple, Amazon, Google and Meta spend more than $16.6 million in lobbying.

The onslaught of political spending comes as Congress considers a bipartisan antitrust bill attempting to regulate the tech giants. The bill’s sponsors are Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Amy Klobuchar, D-Mich.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in January and is expected to receive a full floor vote in the weeks ahead, The Verge reported.

“For too long, Big Tech companies have said ‘just trust us’ while putting profits ahead of their users,” Klobuchar said, according to the Western Journal. “We’re coming together to say the era of ‘just trust us’ has ended.”

Despite seeing the threat from Big Tech’s anti-competitive practices through a very different prism than the far-left, pro-censorship Klobuchar, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., agreed that the powerful utilities must be reined in.

“We have not addressed the threat to our democracy, the threat to free speech that big tech poses,” he told the Washington Times.

While Republicans have sought more accountability as a way to deter the leftist corporations’ aggressive anti-conservative censorship and election meddling, Democrats have sought to use the threat of investigations and regulation to press for more censorship of their political rivals.

Some tech companies, most notably Meta, also have called for more government regulation of online content, seeing it as a red herring that will prevent competitors from emerging while still allowing enough legal loopholes for them to have free reign in the digital world.

Grassley said that approaching the issue from an antitrust standpoint was “the best way to address the problems of Big Tech’s power over what we buy, what we see, what we read, what we say online.” 

Gates likely was serving double-duty as he continues his press for a global pandemic pact that will centralize the power for lockdowns, vaccine mandates and other draconian measures, putting into the hands of a single world authority.

“Pandemics are a global problem, and if one country doesn’t do its part in practicing to detect and contain, then that’s a problem for all the other countries,” he said, according to the Western Journal.

Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.

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