But the global coronavirus pandemic is prompting a dramatic reversal of fortune for the tech giants. Amazon and Facebook are capitalizing on the fact that they are viewed as essential services for a public in lockdown, while Google and Apple are building tools that will enable state health departments to provide a critical public service, tracing the course of potential new covid-19 infections.
The pace of the probes against these companies has slowed as regulators and lawyers are forced to work from home. Emboldened tech lobbyists are fighting to delay the enforcement of a new privacy law this summer in California, saying they can't comply by the July deadline due to the upheaval.
And while the global economy faces potential unemployment and contraction not seen since the Great Depression, the tech giants - and a handful of medium-size tech firms - are already benefiting from new consumer habits initiated during the lockdowns that analysts believe will turn into longer-term shifts in how people shop, work and entertain themselves.