Amazon Is Funding the Faux Grassroots ‘Competitiveness Coalition’

Emily Birnbaum, Bloomberg (via Michael Tsai):

A group fighting antitrust legislation targeting the biggest US tech companies presents itself as a grassroots advocate for American taxpayers, yet it hasn’t disclosed a significant source of funding from one of the industry’s giants: Inc.

The Competitiveness Coalition, led by Scott Brown, a former Republican senator from Massachusetts, has received more than $1 million from Amazon, according to three people familiar with the organization’s funding.

The Competitiveness Coalition’s website features a form allowing it to send an email on your behalf to someone — presumably your representatives based on your ZIP code. The pre-filled email claims proposed regulation intended to curtail the influence of the largest online platforms is “straight out of the Chinese Communist Party playbook”. This is not so different from the language used by Facebook’s front group, American Edge, which claims antitrust regulation will “ultimately hand victory to China”.

This concern comes across as little more than xenophobic fearmongering from think tanks and their corporate backers. It is the same strategy they use to avoid taxes and labour laws, playing different countries and states against each other in a race to the bottom. Massive American companies are dominant in the tech industry. It is stunning to see how fragile they believe they are when faced with even moderate regulatory pressure. Lawmakers should be appropriately cautious of unintended effects, but not cowed by a third Red Scare fuelled by faux advocacy firms seeking unaccountable and unregulated industry sectors.