Big Tech CEOs to testify before Congress: All details here
On Wednesday, the Chief Executives of four of US' largest technology conglomerates - Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google - are heading to testify before a US Congressional panel. They will be sitting in front of the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, albeit virtually, and answering questions around their organization's potential violations of the country's antitrust laws. Here is all about the pivotal high-profile hearing.
In the hearing, which was originally scheduled for Monday (today) but later postponed, Amazon's boss Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, and Google's Sundar Pichai are expected to appear. It will be Bezos's first testimony in Congress as well as the first-ever instance of all four Big Tech CEOs coming together to answer lawmakers' questions, criticisms.
The CEOs are being called to testify as part of the House Judiciary Subcommittee's year-long "investigation of competition in the digital marketplace." Under this, the tech bosses will be answering the panel's questions on whether their organizations exploit their monopoly and dominance in the market to weed out smaller players while not making what would be the best decisions for end consumers.
"The Subcommittee has been investigating the dominance of a small number of digital platforms. Given the central role these corporations play in the lives of the American people, it is critical that their CEOs are forthcoming...their testimony is essential for us to complete this investigation."
Tim Cook could face questions regarding Apple's App Store practices, including the alleged case of hurting new apps and pushing its own apps over other popular services (fixed last year). Then, the lawmakers may also ask about fees charged on in-app purchases and the app approval process, something that developers have long criticized, saying that their programs are held up without any warning.
Jeff Bezos is likely to be quizzed over the allegation on Amazon using the data of sellers operating on its platform to design, price, and promote its own products to match against them. Additionally, he and Cook may face questions around unfairly restricting the sale of Apple's Beats headphones only to those Amazon sellers who are a part of their official reseller program.
Sundar Pichai could be grilled over the antitrust investigations Google currently faces from several states and its dominance of search and online ad market. Pichai is likely to face questions around the fees Google charges from ad buyers/sellers, how the company has profited from toxic content, and whether it has changed Search's algorithms, that has made it expensive for businesses to reach customers.
As for Mark Zuckerberg, the lawmakers are likely to throw questions around Facebook's several acquisitions, including those of Instagram and WhatsApp, over the years. It has been alleged that the social network uses this as a way to neutralize its competitors and maintain market dominance. They may also ask about Onavo, a Facebook-acquired company that reported usage statistics to tell about purchase-able apps.
The proceedings of the hearing will begin on July 29, at 9:30 pm. It is not clear how long the proceedings will last but you can watch the executives speak live as the House Subcommittee will stream the hearing on its YouTube channel. Notably, the panel's final report on the probe will be released at the end of the summer or early fall.