Netchoice Survey: Don't Break Up Big Tech

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Netchoice, a trade group whose members include powerhouse edge players Amazon, Google, and Twitter, released a poll Friday concluding that Americans "do not favor breaking up Big Tech if it producers the negative outcomes Big Tech argues it will.

That came only hours after a House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing in which chairman David Cicciline pledged that Congress would curb Big Tech's power because it had gotten too big and powerful, including through antitrust reform.

According to the poll, only 3% of Americans cited antitrust reform as a top issue for Congress to address in 2021, said the group, while 59% said they were concerned about the potential consequences of breaking up big tech companies after "exposure to information about the potential negative outcomes of doing so."

“While pundits continuously push antitrust as a proposal to address their own political grievances, the majority of the American people clearly believe breaking up tech will negatively impact their choices online and the services that support their lives every single day,” said Netchoice president Steve DelBianco. “Americans aren’t interested in the dismantling of a world-leading industry if it means they would have to pay for services, watch small online companies disappear, or lose out on the latest technology.“

The study found that the respondents prioritized antitrust reform below COVID-19, immigration and national security on Congress' to do list.

And as to the opposition to breaking up Big Tech, that was if that breakup had "unintended negative effect on consumers and the services provided by big tech." The survey proposed a parade of, not exactly horrible, but consumer-unfriendly outcomes from possible divestitures.

Specifically, that meant that 1) 60% of Americans opposed breaking up Amazon if it meant that put an end to two-day delivery; 59% opposed Google divesting YouTube if it meant they had to pay for YouTube; 52% of conservatives and 48% of liberals opposed breaking up Facebook if it meant "if it meant a foreign tech company were to take a sizable share of the markets Facebook operates in"; and 57% opposed breaking up Apple if it meant iPhones could be more easily hacked.

The online poll was conducted Jan. 29-Feb. 1, 2021 among 2,201 U.S. adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.