US Lawmakers Grill Heads Of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google Over Market Domination
During the anti-trust hearing, the four men appeared virtually and faced interrogation for five hours
Chiefs of the four big US tech companies—Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple—were grilled for hours at a high-stakes anti-trust hearing on Wednesday. Sundar Pichai of Google, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Apple's Tim Cook were questioned by a House of Representatives panel over their market dominance.
Apart from questioning their dominance over the market, the lawmakers also interrogated the players on privacy, political bias, and tackling misinformation.
"Simply put, they have too much power," Representative David Cicilline said in his opening remarks at the hearing. He said the pandemic has made these four tech companies more powerful than ever.
Last year in June, the US House Judiciary Committee called for a bipartisan investigation into competition in digital markets. The reason behind these anti-trust investigations is to find whether these companies involve in anti-competitive practices.
The committee is looking into Amazon to check whether the e-commerce giant used sensitive information from third-party sellers present on its platform to develop competing products.
The committee is investigating Apple because of the claims that Apple gives undue advantage to its own apps compared with third-party products on its own App Store.
Google, the biggest search engine, is being questioned for its overall control in the digital advertising industry. Facebook's Zuckerberg is under probe for its acquisition of WhatsApp, Instagram and Giphy.
While all the four-faced the wrath of the congressmen, Sundar Pichai and Mark Zuckerberg received the most flak.
During the five hours of hearing, Pichai struggled to respond to the accusations of anti-conservative bias. When asked about the company’s algorithm, Pichai was seen responding with "happy to engage" multiple times.
On Google’s merging data from Double Click, Rep. Val Demings said the move "destroyed users' anonymity" on the Internet.
Zuckerberg faced tough questions on its acquisition of Instagram, WhatsApp and was asked about copying its competitors’ features. The lawmaker pressed him for selling user data to the third party and questioned him for repeated failure in tackling fake news and conspiracy theories disseminated on the social media platform.
Zuckerberg, in his response, said Facebook has adapted features from others but denied the allegation of being anti-competitive in nature.
Bezos, in his first appearance before a congressional committee, defended Amazon's dealings with third-party sellers.
When asked to Cook about Apple favouring some app developers, he replied the company follows open and transparent rules that are applied evenly to everyone.