Big Tech Bosses; Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg to face U.S. Congress

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After lawmakers collected hundreds of hours of interviews and obtained more than 1.3 million documents about Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, their chief executives will testify before Congress at 1 p.m. on Wednesday to defend their powerful businesses.

The captains of the New Gilded Age — Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google — will appear together before Congress for the first time to justify their business practices. Members of the House judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee have investigated the internet giants for more than a year on accusations that they have stifled rivals and harmed consumers.

The exact contents of the documents they’ve collected are unknown, although they are said to include documents related to some of the companies’ acquisitions and internal communications among top executives.

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It is set to be a bizarre spectacle, with four men who run companies worth nearly $5 trillion combined — and who include two of the world’s richest individuals — primed to argue that their businesses are not really that powerful after all.

And it will be a first in another way: Mr. Zuckerberg, Mr. Pichai, Mr. Bezos and Mr. Cook will all be testifying via videoconference, rather than rising side-by-side for a swearing-in at a witness table in Washington.

At the hearing, the 15 members of the antitrust subcommittee will have five minutes for each question. Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and the chairman of the subcommittee, will control the number of rounds of questioning, potentially stretching the hearing into the evening.

The antitrust issues facing Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon are complex and vastly different.

Amazon is accused of abusing its role as both a retailer and a platform hosting third-party sellers on its marketplace. Apple has been accused of unfairly using its clout over its App Store to block rivals and to force apps to pay high commissions. Rivals have said Facebook has a monopoly in social networking. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is dealing with multiple antitrust allegations because of Google’s dominance in online advertising, search and smartphone software.

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Democrats may also veer off the topic of antitrust and bring up concerns about misinformation on social media. Some Republicans are expected to sidetrack discussion with their concerns of liberal bias at the Silicon Valley companies and accusations that conservative voices are censored.

Source: New York Times