Secret Emails Reveal Cozy Relationship Between Big Tech and Trade Officials
Newly released emails obtained by advocacy group Demand Progress through a Freedom of Information Act request shed light on the close ties between Big Tech companies and trade officials. The emails, which were sent between Google and Amazon lobbyists and members of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), highlight what critics call a coziness between these tech giants and policymakers. The emails reveal that trade officials reached out to tech lobbyists for guidance on various issues, updated them on the status of bills, and even gave them advance notice of discussions held behind closed doors.
Some of the emails indicate a revolving door dynamic, with former USTR employees now working as lobbyists for Amazon and Google. Critics argue that this access gives tech companies an immediate and direct line to policymakers that civil society groups do not enjoy. The emails also show instances where trade officials sought advice from tech lobbyists on negotiations and shared confidential information.
According to Demand Progress, these emails add to the growing evidence of a culture problem at the USTR, with a concerning level of coziness between trade officials and Big Tech. Critics argue that this relationship gives tech companies undue influence over trade policies, potentially resulting in policies that are favorable to them.
The USTR maintains that all staff members operate with a high level of ethical transparency and do not provide favored treatment to any industries or individuals. A spokesperson for the USTR also mentioned that Ambassador Tai has been engaging with workers and small business owners to ensure a wide range of perspectives are considered in the development of trade policy.
The release of these emails has sparked calls for more transparency in trade policymaking. Critics argue that the access granted to Big Tech companies should also be available to the public and civil society groups. They believe that Americans deserve to know what trade negotiators are doing and that their interests are being prioritized.
In response, an Amazon spokesperson stated that they advocate for issues important to their customers and sellers and maintain open lines of communication with officials across all levels of government. Similarly, a Google spokesperson mentioned that they advocate for strong digital trade provisions and will continue to support policies that benefit consumers, small businesses, and economic growth.
The revelation of this cozy relationship between Big Tech and trade officials has raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest and the influence of corporate interests on trade policies. It remains to be seen how these revelations will impact future trade negotiations and policy decisions made by the USTR.