The CEOs of four tech giants– Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google, namely Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai respectively, are set to testify before Congress in a historic antitrust hearing this week.
This comes as part of an antitrust investigation launched to investigate the recent dominance of digital platforms since June last month.
In the hearing, each CEO will have to defend the growing powers of their tech companies before lawmakers. They will be appearing in live videos from video call softwares as a result of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
Sundar Pichai is the new CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube.
The hearing comes as an investigation by the House Judiciary’s AntiTrust subcommittee into the dominance of digital platforms.
The investigations began last month with the subcommittee holding hearings from smaller companies who have alleged monopolistic practices of these four tech giants. Hence, the four CEOs will answer questions based on the committee’s findings.
Previously scheduled to hold on Monday last week, but was postponed for the memorial of Rep. John Lewis (late), the hearing will now hold this week Wednesday at noon ET.
Google is in the forefront of multiple antitrust investigations from various state attorneys of the US. Questions will be focused on Google’s dominance in the search and advertising markets. It is expected that the committee will probe Google on recent changes to its searches which has now made it more expensive for businesses to reach customers. The lawmakers will also quiz Pichai on how Google digital advertising business has faired from online toxic content. Currently, California has joined in the list of states to launch its own investigation on Google. This as well will be drilled.by the lawmakers.
Following the $400 million acquisition of Giphy by Facebook early this year, the company will answer questions regarding its acquisitions which is said is used by the company as a competition neutralisation tactic. In just 16 years of its launching, Facebook has acquired several companies, both large and small. From Instagram in 2012 to WhatsApp in 2014, to a more probing acquisition of Onavo Mobile back in 2013. Onavo is an app that uses Artificial Intelligence to identify companies that are good for purchase. Facebook is currently under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission over these acquisitions. Zuckerberg will have to answer questions bothering on these as well as Facebook’s steps in stopping the spread of fake news and hate speech on its platform. This also comes with the companies refusal to check facts on campaign ads and posts by President Donald Trump.
Questions for Jeff Bezos, Amazon boss will look at Amazon treatment of third parties that sell on its platform. An investigation by Wall Street Journal in April learnt that Amazon was using data gotten from third party sellers to make plans for developing its own private label products. It is on the basis of this investigation that the antitrust investigation into the company began in the EU. Also questions regarding the unexpected increase in online orders and strained Amazon fulfillment center due to the Coronavirus pandemic will be drilled on Bezos. Amazon warehouses’ safety as well as protest of working conditions and death of Amazon warehouse workers, by its workers will also be torchlighed. This will be the first time Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is testifying before the US Congress which makes this week’s hearing a historic one indeed.
Lastly, Apple. Apple’s App Store will be the major focus by lawmakers–Apple’s restrictive rules, their 15–30% tax on in-app purchases. Lawmakers will also probe Apple’s Approval process for new apps as this has some hidden techniques behind it. While the App Store is Apple’s second largest revenue maker, its own apps are not subject to the same rules as other third parties apps.
Wednesday’s hearing will indeed be historic as it will mark the first time two of the four CEOs are testifying before the US Congress, Sundar Pichai of Google and Jeff Bezos of Amazon, even as Pichai is now CEO of both Alphabet and Google.
(Adapted from businessinsider.com)