By Corinne Murdock
Arizona’s sentiments on Big Tech’s influence are largely negative, according to a recent study of bipartisan voters across the state. What’s more, a majority of respondents want regulations placed on Big Tech immediately.
Data Orbital, a data analysis and political consulting firm, launched a study last week to get the pulse on Arizona’s perspective on Big Tech and current legislation to regulate it. Researchers surveyed 550 voters and found an abundance of concern over Big Tech’s influence. Over 80 percent of respondents agreed that Big Tech’s power over citizens’ lives is too great. Over 77 percent of individuals further characterized tech companies as self-interested monopolies opposed to small businesses and individuals.
Out of all respondents, nearly 64 percent believed that Arizona should regulate Big Tech’s influence. A few more of those respondents believed that Arizona’s legislature should take action as soon as possible -not wait for D.C. lawmakers to step in.
Specifically, respondents voiced support for HB 2005, a bill to break up Big Tech’s app payment monopoly. Many app platforms require developers to use their payment systems and pay a service fee ranging anywhere from 15 to 30 percent. The legislation would only target platforms that have over 1 million downloads a year, and extend to Arizona-based developers or users. As it stands, Apple and Google are the companies that would be affected by this bill.
Data Orbital published these findings as HB 2005 awaits consideration in the Senate. It passed in the House on March 3.
Big Tech was quick to respond to the threat posed by HB 2005. Lobbyists swarmed the Capitol as soon as they caught wind of State Representative Regina Cobb’s (R-Kingman) intent to introduce the bill. They have argued that the bill was unfair – it would make Apple and Google provide its services to developers and users for free.
Other Big Tech companies concurred with those lobbyist arguments. Twitter Head of Consumer Product Kayvon Beykpour asserted that the commission fees are necessary to run a smooth and ordered system.
“This isn’t just a highway tax,” stated Beykpour. “There’s a lot of cost and effort involved in building these ecosystems that allow you to accept payments, and there’s a lot of fraud or risk involved in the whole customer service flow around refunds. A lot of that is taken off [the consumer’s] plate.”
During the House floor’s final vote on the bill, Cobb’s rebuttal against these arguments was that the “big guys” aren’t having to bear the burden of these commission fees. She pointed out that Big Tech has a monopoly on the market, and noted that there weren’t any legislators in the room without an Apple or Android phone.
“If you have a space, you charge for the space. Well, the big guys are not getting charged for that space,” stated Cobb. “They get charged zero. These 16 percent get charged 30 [percent]. Anything with a million or less that [has] revenues gets charged 15 percent. But if you’re between that million – which is the very small guy – and now up there to that very top guy, that’s that 30 percent. So the equity is not there.”
Other proponents of the bill, such as the Coalition for App Fairness (CAF), add that the bill would allow businesses to innovate. They claim that Big Tech stifles healthy competition and growth.
“Through HB 2005, Arizona is building bipartisan momentum to provide more consumer freedom, lower costs, and increase developer’s ability to thrive and innovate,” stated CAF Executive Director Meghan DiMuzio.
Although HB 2005 has been assigned to committee in the Senate, no action has been taken yet.Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.