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Internet Association loses Microsoft and Uber

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The trade organization once central to the intense lobbying efforts seem to be fading into the background as companies increasingly take a stand-alone approach. This decline has been exacerbated this week with the emergence of a new report from Axios, revealing that Microsoft and Uber, among the group’s two largest members, are leaving the ship.

Founded in 2012, IA at one point included Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Facebook (now Meta) and served as a primary vessel for promoting favorable legislative outcomes for companies. The IA has played a key role in many policy decisions in recent years, including the deal to create a version of the controversial 2018 FOSTA-SESTA law that may have been broader. favorable technology companies. Since then, however, the group’s influence has waned, especially as tech companies are concerned about impending antitrust laws – an area that IA has chosen to stay away from for now.

In an email, IA’s senior vice president of global communications and public affairs, Christina Martin, told Gizmodo that the organization still has nearly 40 members and has every reason to hope that Microsoft and Uber can join in the future. “It is always regrettable to lose a member, but the business decisions of time and resources must be respected,” Martin said. “Microsoft and Uber have been big supporters of IA for nearly a decade.” Microsoft, meanwhile, told Axios that the company periodically reviews its trade association membership to “ensure it aligns with our political agenda.” Microsoft did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for more details.

The departure of Microsoft and Uber may be the first major company to leave IA, but the group has been in decline for a while. In accordance with According to a July Politiko report, the news agency lost almost a fifth of its staff in just over a month. While other big players like Google, Amazon, and Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta are still sticking with IA, they reportedly planned to cut their sales organization costs significantly.

While the most influential lobbying firm Big Tech may leave sooner or later, that doesn’t mean the internet giants themselves are spending less on lobbying. Meta spent nearly $ 5.1 million on lobbying in the third quarter of this year. in accordance with Secrets Revealed, second largest, spent in a quarter in 12 years. This is only after the first quarter of 2020 (election year). Overall, Meta alone spent $ 14.7 million in the first three quarters of 2021. Amazon ranked second among tech companies in the third quarter, currently spending $ 5.04 million and $ 15.3 million in a year.

Separate report from advocacy group Public Citizen determined that Facebook and Amazon were the two largest sponsors of corporate lobbying in the US last year, overtaking Comcast, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon.

So why the world’s largest tech companies go it alone? In many ways, they compete with each other, offering similar products but using substantially different business models, which may mean that a more fragmented approach to lobbying might make sense. Though Apple and Metafor example, AR and VR apps are likely to converge in the next decade, the two apps are very different from each other in terms of how they monetize user data and their common philosophy behind personal privacy …

Some firms, among which Meta is the most relevant examplealso face much more scrutiny from regulators and the public oppositionthat are likely to increase their lobbyist’s check more than other less controversial companies. Tech firms also disagree on what regulatory concessions they would deem acceptable. For example, Meta, Amazon and Microsoft have it all colloquial in favor of new rules and standards regarding data privacy, but smaller firms backed down, arguing that such rules would disproportionately benefit the leading players. Conflicts like these can leave tech firms in too much of a predicament to live comfortably under the same lobbying roof.

“When the Internet Association was created, you could see that there are common ground, principled and policy issues, that all these companies were on the same side,” says University of Washington professor Margaret O’Mara. said Politics earlier this year. “It’s completely different now.”

And it’s not that these mega-companies lack the financial resources needed to take lobbying into their own hands. At least since three technology firms Already valued at over $ 2 trillion, these giants can afford to go it alone and tailor their lobbying spending to suit their individual needs.

In other words, don’t worry: Big Tech’s monetary attack on laws and governance isn’t going away anytime soon.

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