Breaking Up Big Tech Tech Could ‘Degrade’ Innovation And Give China The Upper Hand, Former National Security Officials Warn

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Ailan Evans Deputy Editor
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Former intelligence community officials sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy expressing concern over recent big tech antitrust bills’ impact on U.S. innovation.

The letter, signed by ten former national security officers including former acting CIA Director Michael Morell and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, warned the series of antitrust bills advanced in the House Judiciary Committee in June risked advantaging Chinese technology companies by targeting U.S. firms. They argued the bills would harm innovation and diminish America’s “technological edge.”

“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 officials wrote.

The House antitrust bills aim to regulate a number of tech companies’ perceived anticompetitive business practices, tightening laws governing mergers and acquisitions and preventing firms from preferencing their own services on their platforms. Officials argued the bills, by focusing on American companies like Google, Apple and Amazon, would advantage Chinese competitors such as Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei in global technology markets.

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) questions witnesses at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on police brutality and racial profiling on June 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. George Floyd died May 25 while in Minneapolis police custody, sparking worldwide protests. (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) questions witnesses at a House Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

House lawmakers who championed the bills pushed back against the officials’ claims, arguing the bills would promote innovation through competition. (RELATED: DOJ Prepares Second Antitrust Suit Against Google Over Digital Ads)

“These bills do not create new opportunities for companies controlled by China or other foreign bad actors” Nick Givas, spokesman for Republican Rep. Ken Buck who led the introduction of the bills along with Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Our bills will create competition and protect privacy rights for consumers.”

“These arguments are the same arguments that Facebook and Google have been making for a very long time in an effort to avoid regulation,” Rep. Cicilline told Axios.

The officials went on to cite the bipartisan Innovation and Competition Act as the type of legislation that would help the U.S. compete with China. The bill, which passed the Senate in June, invests over $250 billion in semiconductor manufacturing, artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computing and other technologies.

“Rather than passing bills that cede U.S. tech leadership to China, we must build on America’s key advantages and ensure that the United States remains a technological powerhouse for decades to come,” the officials said.

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