Big Tech Split Leads To Demise of Internet Association


An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Financial Times: Growing tensions between Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, and Apple lie behind the death of the Internet Association (IA), the nine-year-old lobby group that was Big Tech’s voice in Washington, according to insiders and industry observers. The Washington-based group, which dubbed itself the “unified” voice of the internet industry, will shut at the end of the year after both Microsoft and Uber, among others, pulled their financial support, leaving an insurmountable funding gap. “Our industry has undergone tremendous growth and change,” it said in a statement, adding that its closure was “in line with this evolution.” The closure is a sign of the increasingly different policy objectives of its Big Tech members, said observers, with Microsoft in particular looking to distance itself from its Silicon Valley peers.

“Microsoft has realized that it doesn’t want to be associated with Google, Facebook and Amazon,” said Barry Lynn, executive director of the Open Markets Institute, an anti-monopoly campaign group. “It’s really, really simple.” A number of smaller tech companies had also become frustrated that their priorities were at odds with Big Tech’s agenda. “This org could’ve saved itself years ago by kicking out everyone with a market cap greater than $500 billion,” tweeted Luther Lowe, Yelp’s head of public policy. Yelp left the association in 2019. “I made this suggestion to the leadership a few years ago, but it was shot down, so we quit.”

Despite being the second most valuable US technology group, Microsoft has been able to dodge the latest focus on antitrust in Congress. Unlike the CEOs of Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella was left out of the blockbuster congressional hearing in July 2020 that saw the others summoned for a lengthy grilling. Microsoft has also not yet been the focus of any action announced by President Joe Biden’s reinvigorated Federal Trade Commission. The company, which went through lengthy antitrust scrutiny in the early 2000s that led it to the brink of being broken up, now boasts about a more collaborative approach with regulators. Lynn said Microsoft was keen to distance itself from its rivals because “they’ve been through the wringer. They don’t want to have their emails read, they don’t want to have to go through discovery.”



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