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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

With regulators around the world looking at reining in Big Tech, the companies in the crosshairs are increasingly eager to point out their rivals' sins.

Why it matters: Investigations in the U.S. and around the world are targeting Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. To make their case, regulators need to show the companies are squelching competition — a task the tech companies may be aiding with their infighting.

Driving the news: An increasing part of each company's game plan seems to be to try to shift the spotlight and hope that regulators will put their limited time and resources against some other target.

  • A top Google executive recently called out Apple for its control over iMessage. "Apple’s iMessage lock-in is a documented strategy. Using peer pressure and bullying as a way to sell products is disingenuous for a company that has humanity and equity as a core part of its marketing," Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer said in a tweet.
  • Facebook has criticized Apple and Google for the commissions they take on apps and in-app purchases.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook regularly derides Facebook for its monetization of customer's private information.
  • Last year Google and Microsoft ended a pact not to attack one another, leading to public criticism of Google by Microsoft, Google-commissioned reports attacking Microsoft, as well as a push by Google consultants to highlight Microsoft's power to reporters and regulators.

Yes, but: All the finger-pointing to protect individual companies' interests could just further blemish the entire industry in the court of public opinion.

  • What incriminates one company doesn't exonerate the others.

Between the lines: Industries that face a concerted threat from Washington often band together and send their trade groups into the fray to represent them as a united front.

  • With the tech giants, the opposite is happening: The Internet Association, which long represented the interests of many of the industry's largest players, dissolved last month.

The big picture: The government's campaign to limit Big Tech's power faces a big challenge in going after many targets at once, each of which has a different approach and grip on the market.

  • What's more, the companies do compete against one another at the edges, allowing each to make the case that they not only face competition from start-ups, but also from their peers.

Meanwhile, the tech giants are collectively frustrated at legislative proposals that take aim at them but exclude both foreign tech companies and other corporate giants, such as Walmart.

  • TikTok frequently gets held up both as proof that competition in tech is alive and well — and as another company that regulators ought to be scrutinizing.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jan 13, 2022 - Technology

Microsoft to review harassment policies, including Gates allegations

Photo: Getty Images

Microsoft said on Thursday that it is launching a review of its policies and practices regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination, with plans to issue a public report expected this spring.

Of note: Microsoft says the report will summarize the results of any investigations of potential sexual harassment by board members and senior executives — including the board's look into allegations made against co-founder Bill Gates.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: The Weather Prediction Center said in a storm summary Monday that winter storm warnings are still in effect for portions of the Central Appalachians, Ohio Valley, interior Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, while portions of the Central Appalachians and coastal New England are under high wind warnings.

Colleyville Rabbi credits survival to active-shooter training

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the people taken hostage in a synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, said in an interview with CBS Monday that he initially took in the man because he thought he needed shelter.

The big picture: Cytron-Walker said he spoke to the hostage taker, identified by the FBI as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, for several minutes and made him tea before Akram took the rabbi and three other people hostage during Shabbat services for around 11 hours in Colleyville, Texas.