Big Tech’s Big Money Inside Game to Block Legislation Banning Its Anticompetitive Practices

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Big Tech unleashed all its power to stop the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA), a bill that would crack down on the industry’s worst anticompetitive behavior, a report released today by Public Citizen found.

“This is a simple story. Big Tech used profits from its abuse of market power to finance a lobbying effort to block Congress from stopping its abuses,” said Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president for Public Citizen. “The only way to end this cycle is to pass AICOA before the end of this legislative session by including it in the omnibus spending package.”

Led by the Big Four tech companies – Amazon, Apple, Google, and Meta – entities opposed to AICOA deployed twice the lobbying power and six times the money as supporters, while enlisting dozens of insiders with ties to the U.S. House and U.S. Senate Judiciary committees and congressional leadership to blunt AICOA’s momentum. Public Citizen found that:

  • Lobbyists opposed to AICOA were responsible for 603 lobbyist engagements, compared to only 256 for supporters, giving the opposition more than a two-to-one advantage. The Big Four were responsible for more engagements than all the bill’s supporters combined.
  • Lobbyists opposing AICOA contributed $2.3 million to members of Congress during the 2022 cycle, three times more than supporters. They have given $9 million to this Congress over the past two decades.
  • The Big Four deployed 38 lobbyists with connections to the House and/or Senate Judiciary Committees to lobby against AICOA. Amazon deployed 20 Judiciary-connected lobbyists, the most of the Big Four.
  • The Big Four deployed 14 lobbyists to lobby against AICOA who previously worked for the most powerful members of the congressional leadership. Five previously worked for U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the most of anyone in leadership.

“Dominant tech giants have captured the policy process,” said Matt Kent, competition policy advocate for Public Citizen. “Despite their reputation as innovators, Big Tech ultimately uses the same influence tactics as their Big Oil and Big Tobacco predecessors: hire key staff, swarm Capitol Hill, and blanket the city with contributions.”