“Yeah, you have my commitment. It’s always been true and we’ll continue to conduct ourselves in a neutral way,”Google CEO Sundar Pichai, responding to Rep. Jim Jordan about Google not tailoring its search engine to give a leg up to presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden
At the “Big Tech Hearing”, The Heads Of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google testified before the House Antitrust Panel. The hearing is supposed to delve into and find answers to the main question, ‘do the four tech titans control too much of the online economic arena.’
A report from High Plains Public Radio says “Not surprisingly, the tech giants’ chief executives told Congress: absolutely not.”
NPR says that the hearing is the first time all four technology leaders have testified together, as scrutiny over the companies’ nearly $5 trillion market power draws intensifying scrutiny in Washington.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio seemed to get increasingly agitated at Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Jordan says he was “concerned that Google will tailor its search engine to give a leg up to presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over President Trump in searches related to the November election.”
Jordan never seemed to produce any type of concrete evidence at the time that the search giant had done this now or in the past. Jordan also seemed to keep pressing Sundar for a “promise” that this wouldn’t happen. Sundar did make a promise to Jordan, saying “Yeah, you have my commitment. It’s always been true and we’ll continue to conduct ourselves in a neutral way,”.
When Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., appeared to dismiss Jordan’s concerns as “fringe conspiracy theories”, Jordan seemed to get even more irritated, interrupting Scanlon, saying “Mr. Chairman, we have the email,”, according to Fox News.
That statement refers to an email written by a Google staffer that suggested that the tech giant aided Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, which certainly doesn’t seem like a concrete fact.
Apple CEO Time Cook was grilled about perceived antitrust measures taking place in the Apple App Store, the online catalog of software the company houses, and sells to its customers. Cook was asked about a specific piece of software called Screen Time, which is built into the iOS system itself. Screen Time is supposed to allow parents to limit functions on iOS devices such as iPhone and iPad.
Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia asked Cook why other competing software was kicked out of the App Store when Screen Time was introduced in 2018.
Cook replied that the other software violated privacy issues. The other competing software was eventually allowed back into the App Store some 6 months later, but McBath mentions that there didn’t seem to be any noticeable difference with them.
Cook stood by his decision that “there are many reasons why” an app may not meet the App Store’s guidelines.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was once again under siege for his company’s purchase of popular apps Instagram and WhatsApp.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., suggested that a letter obtained during an investigation into the company refers to the purchase of Instagram, as part of “neutralizing a competitor.”
Although Zuckerberg said that the Federal Trade Commission OK’d the merger at the time, chairman of the antitrust subcommittee, Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I. shot back “that the “failures” of the FTC in 2012 do not mean it was not a violation of antitrust law.”
There didn’t seem to be a clear winner with that argument.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was queried about if his company uses the data it collects from other sellers on the platform for its benefit.
Bezos replied,”I can’t answer that question yes or no,” Bezos said. “We have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private label business, but I can’t guarantee you that that policy has never been violated.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who asked Bezos the question, implied that Amazon has access to information about consumer habits, sellers’ pricing, and inventory data.
“You have access to data that your competitors do not have,” she continued, adding that if Amazon was “continuously monitoring” such data to make sure that other sellers “are never going to get big enough that they can compete with you — that is actually the concern that the committee has.”