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Lobbyists for Silicon Valley Giants Like Facebook Find Glory Days Are Over
Tech lobbyists, including many Obama veterans, now face tough crowd in Congress, White House
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A new privacy feature in Apple’s iOS 14.5 requires apps to request permission to track you. And Facebook isn’t happy about it. WSJ’s Joanna Stern put Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook into the ring to explain why this software update has kicked off a tech slugfest. Photo illustration: Preston Jessee for The Wall Street Journal
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Updated June 17, 2021 3:26 pm ET
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WASHINGTON—President Biden’s decision to name the progressive antitrust crusader Lina Khan to lead the Federal Trade Commission is a stark display of how far Silicon Valley has fallen out of favor in the nation’s capital.
In Congress, Democrats and some Republicans are working to rein in the largest tech companies with proposals aimed at curbing their market power. Lawmakers are cheering antitrust probes by the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission that could force these companies to shed acquisitions that were rubber-stamped by the government.
In the White House, Mr. Biden has shunned job applicants with ties to large technology companies. His decision to appoint Ms. Khan as FTC chairwoman Wednesday made one thing clear: There is to be no sequel to the tech industry’s glory days during Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House.
“In the last four or five years, the pendulum has swung in an overly dramatic fashion from ‘tech can do no wrong’ to ‘tech can do no right,’ ” said Adam Kovacevich, who spent 12 years as one of Google’s top lobbyists. He now leads a new tech group called Chamber of Progress aimed at wooing back Democrats.
Tech industry lobbyists are challenged by the new reality. Facebook Inc.’s Washington roster until recently starred one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s most trusted former aides, Catlin O’Neill, the granddaughter of former speaker Tip O’Neill.
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