The CEOs of four tech giants are set to testify before Congress in a landmark antitrust hearing this week. Read on to learn what is at stake for each company.
The CEOs of Apple, Google, Facebook y Amazon will have to defend their companies' growing power to lawmakers, as part of an ongoing investigation by the House Judiciary's Antitrust subcommittee into the dominance of digital platforms. Due to the ongoing global pandemic, the CEOs are expected to appear remotely via video call software.
Since June, the subcommittee has held hearings with smaller competitors, which have testified over the alleged monopolistic practices of these giants. Here is what they will probably be asked.
A Wall Street Journal investigation in April found that Amazon frequently used data collected from third-party sellers on its site to develop its own private label products — that revelation started an antitrust investigation.
Also, dozens of investors and entrepreneurs told The Wall Street Journal that Amazon invested in their companies, gaining access to proprietary information, before launching competitors. Many of the startups were crushed in the process.
Amazon could also have to answer questions regarding the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused an unexpected surge in online orders, strained Amazon's fulfillment centers, and made the safety of workers at Amazon warehouses a point of controversy.
Lawmakers will likely be interested in Google's dominance in the search and advertising market, so questions will probably focus on whether and how the company has kept a fair playing field. How Google's digital advertising business has profited from toxic content online and hate speech on YouTube, may also be topics of interest.
Facebook is likely to face evaluation over its past acquisitions, which critics say Facebook has used as a tactic to neutralize competition threats.
Lawmakers will also probably question Facebook's measures to stop the spread of misinformation and hate speech on its platform, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic and run-up to the 2020 election
Lawmakers are concerned that the company's App Store is hurting developers. The App Store is Apple's second-biggest revenue maker after the iPhone, but Apple's own apps aren't subject to the same rules as third parties. Apple has restrictive rules for App Store developers, including a 15-30% tax on in-app purchases that third parties have long argued is unfair.
One particularly unclear area is Apple's approval process for new apps, so lawmakers will probably try to investigate some of the unknown mechanisms.