CEOs of four of the biggest tech companies in the world — Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google — will testify before the US Congress later this month, as part of its anti investigation of the Big Tech. This was first reported by New York Times columnist Kara Swisher following her conversation with Rep-David Cicilline. Later, a spokesperson for the House Judiciary Committee also confirmed it to the New York Times. Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet/Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have all reportedly agreed to testify.
The House Judiciary Committee had opened broad investigations into potential antitrust practices of these companies last year, in June. Google is being investigated for its dominance in the ad business, while for Facebook the focus has been on its acquisitions for maintaining dominance over social media, the New York Times report said. Apple meanwhile came under the scanner for potentially unfair App Store practices, while Amazon has been questioned about its treatment of third-party sellers. The executives are also likely to face questions about other issues, like Amazon’s treatment of its warehouse workers or the spread of hate speech on Facebook and YouTube, New York Times added.
While announcing its probe last year, the Committee had said that as part of the investigation, it will document competition problems in digital markets, examine whether dominant firms are engaging in anti-competitive conduct, and asses if existing antitrust laws, competition policies, and current enforcement levels are adequate to address these issues. It has already held conversations with smaller companies who complained about the Big Tech’s anti-competitive practices.
Congressional testimonies from Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg have been politically charged sessions with a gigantic media spotlight. This also marks increased scrutiny of big tech companies both in the US and EU. Following Congress’ investigation, US’ Justice Department had also initiated a broad antitrust investigation against “market leading” online platforms. As the EU and US’ antitrust glare on Big Tech heats up, testimonies from the companies’ heads are something that could be key in shaping public perception of the need to regulate the industry. In India, Amazon obtained an interim stay on a Competition Commission of India investigation from proceeding; Flipkart has also filed for legal intervention to prevent a similar investigation into its practices from happening.