US Chamber of Commerce has Big Tech’s back against regulators

The news: The US Chamber of Commerce has weighed in against the rising tide of Big Tech regulation by attacking FTC Chair Lina Khan and taking up the cause against wider industry regulation.

Why it’s worth watching: The chamber is the nation’s largest business lobbyist, and it uses its substantial influence to protect the interests of its member businesses, per Bloomberg.

  • The US Chamber of Commerce isn’t known as a mouthpiece for Silicon Valley but has recently risen to fight against a toughening antitrust enforcement.
  • Most notably, the organization has been repeatedly attacking the FTC and Khan, a known Big Tech critic.
  • Growing animosity between the chamber and the FTC stemmed from the latter’s denial of 35 of the 37 public records requested by the chamber in December 2021.
  • “Any time we see a big expansion in regulatory power over industry, we’re going to get involved,” said Suzanne Clark, the chamber’s chief executive officer, in an interview with Bloomberg. “We didn’t choose the FTC and antitrust. That battle came to us.”

The bigger picture: Big Tech gains a vocal and powerful ally against government regulators with the involvement of the chamber. This comes after the technology industry’s biggest lobbying group, the Internet Association, disbanded last year. 

  • The chamber is preparing a lawsuit to get access to documents related to Khan’s policy changes and any communications between the FTC and the White House. 
  • It’s taking up the fight because it says changes to the antitrust framework affect all large and small businesses.
  • The tech sector’s influence within the chamber has increased recently. Amazon started donating only a year ago and Meta’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan recently joined the chamber’s Board of Directors. 

The takeaway: The US Chamber of Commerce, which argues that regulation will stifle innovation, will continue to fight regulators like the FTC by attempting to discredit its leadership. This sentiment runs counter to White House arguments that corporate mergers and declining competition lead to higher prices for consumers. 

It remains to be seen if additional lobbying pressure will quell the government’s toughening stance on regulation and if White House appointees can outlast lobbying efforts.