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Ex-national security officials funded by big tech claim antitrust laws would hurt US – New York Post


A dozen former top national security officials, several of whom are paid by Google and Facebook, are urging Congress to pump the brakes on antitrust bills that could lead to breaking up big tech companies.

They argue the measures could undermine the US in its competition with China. 

The former officials — including ex-CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and intelligence chief Dan Coats — warned in a letter to Congressional leaders published by Axios that “Congress risks undermining America’s key advantage vis-à-vis China.”

The letter responds to a series of bipartisan bills introduced over the summer that could make it harder for the biggest tech platforms to complete mergers and keep them from owning businesses that create conflicts of interest. 

But at least three of the 12 people who signed the letter failed to mention their work for organizations funded in part by big tech companies.

Former Trump administration intelligence chief Dan Coats is now a senior adviser at a corporate law firm that has worked for Google at least twice since 2019.
Former Trump administration intelligence chief Dan Coats is now a senior adviser at a corporate law firm that has worked for Google at least twice since 2019.
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana who served as the Trump’s administration’s director of national intelligence until 2019, is now a senior adviser at corporate law firm King & Spalding — which has worked for Google at least twice since 2019.

Another signatory, former principal deputy director of national intelligence Susan M. Gordon, works as a “consultant on technology and global risk” at a think tank called the Center for a New American Security, which is funded by Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft, among other companies. 

A third signatory, Bush administration Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend, works on the national security advisory board at American Edge, a Facebook-funded political advocacy group that fights regulation of tech industry. 

Ex-Homeland Security advisor Frances Townsend works on the national security advisory board at American Edge, a Facebook-funded political advocacy group that fights regulation of tech industry.
Ex-Homeland Security advisor Frances Townsend works on the national security advisory board at American Edge, a Facebook-funded political advocacy group that fights regulation of tech industry.
Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

“Recent congressional antitrust proposals that target specific American technology firms would degrade critical R&D priorities, allow foreign competitors to displace leaders in the U.S. tech sector both at home and abroad, and potentially put sensitive U.S. data and IP in the hands of Beijing,” the former national security officials argued in a letter to Democratic House Majority leader Nancy Pelosi and Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. 

“Congress should not proceed with current legislative proposals before understanding the full range of potential consequences,” the group added. 

Matt Stoller, an antitrust expert and former senior adviser to the Senate Budget Committee, said there is no evidence that antitrust bills would hurt national security — and argued that a lack of competition among US tech firms has actually given China an advantage. 

The former officials argued that "Congress risks undermining America’s key advantage vis-à-vis China" by passing antitrust bills targeting companies like Facebook.
The former officials argued that “Congress risks undermining America’s key advantage vis-à-vis China” by passing antitrust bills targeting companies like Facebook.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

“Who’s the big innovator in shareable video? It’s not Google, it’s not Facebook, it’s TikTok — a Chinese-owned firm,” Stoller told The Post. “Big tech is basically the American auto industry in the late 1960s: It looks like it’s on top of the world but that’s masking fundamental weaknesses” 

Stoller also pointed out that the letter failed to acknowledge that China is cracking down on its own big tech companies, levying billions in antitrust fines against Alibaba and going as far to consider bringing ride-hailing company Didi under state control

“It’s just a bunch of people, many of whom are paid by big tech, making a generic argument, not acknowledging that China is breaking up their big tech firms,” Stoller said. “It’s just reckless.” 

Former principal deputy director of national intelligence Susan M. Gordon is a “consultant on technology and global risk” at a think tank called the Center for a New American Security, which is funded by Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft, among other companies.
Former principal deputy director of national intelligence Susan M. Gordon is a “consultant on technology and global risk” at a think tank called the Center for a New American Security, which is funded by Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft, among other companies.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images



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