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Antitrust Hearing 2020: All you need to know

Antitrust Hearing 2020: All you need to know

At the latest antitrust hearing, representatives from both Democrats and Republican were prepared to take on the 4 big tech giants: Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple.

These 4 tech companies have been accused of holding too much of power which is disruptive and harmful. As per Representative David N. Cicilline, these tech companies have enough power to put country’s democracy and their competition at great risk. 

At the antitrust hearing, Representatives from both Democrats and Republicans grilled the head of the companies for hours. Representatives raised questions about privacy, exterminating competitive startups and ventures by acquiring them or embezzling their technology/idea. Head of the companies were also questioned about their dominance and control over the market and misusing their position as entry-points.

Antitrust Hearing: What was asked and what was answered?

Antitrust hearing
Mark Zuckerberg at Antitrust Hearing

Zuckerberg’s internal e-mails topic was again dug out of grave which gave him tough time during his virtual presence. Representative Jaya Pramila pointed out at Zuckerberg’s internal e-mails where he has written to Instagram’s co-founder Kevin Systron that Facebook will mimic the image sharing platform. This was during the negotiations with Instagram.

Other e-mails were also discovered where Zuckerberg had wished to acquire Google.

Antitrust hearing
Jeff Bezos at Antitrust Hearing

Amazon was too accused of similar activities of acquiring competitions. Amazon was also questioned about its method of handling and using third party seller data on their platforms to eradicate small businesses. 

Representative Hank Johnson raised the issue of counterfeit products available on the e-commerce platform of Amazon. Representative asked company head Jeff Bezos why the company should not be held responsible.

To this, Bezos replied that this issue should also be addressed by Congress and the company founder also added that Amazon is taking measures to avoid and remove counterfeit products from their platform. Bezos said that the law enforcement resources should be raised to curb counterfeits and stricter penalties are passed.

During questioning from Jamie Raskin, Bezos admitted that Amazon uses its platforms to promote its products over other competitions who do not have same features. 

Jeff Bezos added that it is common practice in business and he would not be surprised to see Alexa promote their own products.

Amazon head also assured that there are policies in place that prevents users of seller data to kill sellers but, he could not endorse the fact that the policies has never been violated. An audio tape was played during the Antitrust meeting in which a bookseller on Amazon accused company practices for killing her business.

Antitrust hearing
Sundar Pichai at Antitrust Hearing

Google was targeted for its overall dominance over the internet. CEO Sundar Pichai, was questioned over its company’s dominance on news sector and representatives pointed out at the data where the company has not been fair to news publishers. 

Company was also questioned about its user data usage and stealing data from competing websites and companies. 

Google CEO during questioning also admitted that, along with automated way of blacklisting websites from Google Search, there is also a manual component to blacklist any website.

Antitrust hearing
Tim Cook at Antitrust Hearing

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook was the only one who had to face less difficult questions as compared to other three. Tim Cook was questioned about the 30% commission which company charge to the developers on App Store for payments. Cook responded to this by mentioning that 30% commission is far too less than what developers would pay before the App Store was released.

Cook was also asked about his intentions to raise the commission to which he pointed out that since the day App Store was introduced, the company has not raised the prices. He also added that competition from other players would keep Apple away from increasing the commissions in future too.

Question about China and Pledge

The four CEO’s were inquired about the Chinese government stealing tech from US companies. Both Pichai and Cook replied to this by informing that their company’s data has never been stolen, to their knowledge.

Zuckerberg said that, China stealing tech from US is well documented and Bezos added that, he has heard reports of theft by China, but he has not personally seen it. 

Sundar Pichai added that in year 2009 that Google had suffered due to cyber-attack from China.

At the hearing, all four companies pledged not to work with any company which use slave labor.

Conclusion from the antitrust hearing

Several members from the panel asked the companies why they should not be broken up or not extensively regulated. 

After 4 hours of intense discussion at antitrust hearing, Congress came to conclusion that these 4 companies have clear monopoly in their respective spaces. It was said that some of the companies need to be broken-up and all need to be properly regulated. 

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