Big Tech CEOs Prepare Defenses for US Congress to Hear Its Growing Power

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – CEOs of four of the largest technology companies in the US plan to deflect criticism next week at a congressional hearing on their use of market power to harm their rivals by saying that they themselves They face competition and discredit claims that they are so dominant.

FILE PHOTO: Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook President and CEO, testifies at a hearing of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee in Washington, USA, on October 23, 2019. REUTERS / Erin Scott

CEOs of Facebook, Inc, Alphabet’s Google and Apple will speak before the antitrust panel of the House Judiciary Committee on July 27. They will present their testimonies virtually, according to sources familiar with their plans.

The panel is questioning companies as part of its in-depth investigation into whether they actively work to harm and eliminate their smallest rivals, while not always making the best decisions for their clients.

The high-profile audience, which will bring together Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai, will be a key moment in the growing backlash against Big Tech in the United States and is likely to believe a face between skeptical executives and lawmakers on both sides.

However, many technology lobbying and industry critics say the audience is unlikely to address core antitrust issues or bring new information to the table.

Apple is likely to be questioned about the way it manages its app store after facing criticism that it presents hurdles for newcomers. Apple told Reuters that it will argue that it does not have a controlling market share for the apps. The iPhone maker views their store as a feature designed to ensure the safety and reliability of their phones.

Apple will address issues such as the app store approval process, a pain point for developers who have said their apps are delayed without notice, and accusations that it doesn’t share key features such as data on the phone’s location.

The other companies will also claim that they still face a lot of competition.

A source familiar with Amazon’s plans said Jeff Bezos will speak about consumers’ options for online shopping and how the coronavirus pandemic has fueled e-commerce in general, even for major retail rivals like Walmart.

He will also talk about small sellers on his third-party marketplace and “how they have continued to thrive despite competition from Amazon,” the source added. Amazon has come under scrutiny over how it uses small vendor data to benefit its own business.

Bezos will also address allegations that the company took advantage of the pandemic by limiting inventory sold by small sellers, but will steer clear of raising controversial issues such as the conversation about the company’s breakup, the source said.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg will follow a similar tactic, another source said. He is expected to argue that the company has strong competitors, including Google and Amazon on the advertising side and Twitter and TikTok on social media.

Zuckerberg is expected to renew Facebook’s call for government regulation in areas such as harmful content on social media, electoral integrity and privacy, areas where the company has been criticized.

Details of Google’s possible arguments were not available. But in recent weeks, the company has released blog posts and a white paper claiming that it still faces a lot of competition and that the fees it charges ad buyers and sellers are justified.

Amazon, Facebook and Google declined to comment.

“There is not much that technology CEOs can do to appease anti-technology critics … this audience is not about finding the truth but about creating news,” said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for the industry lobby group. NetChoice.

Reports by Nandita Bose and Diane Bartz in Washington; Additional reports by Stephen Nellis and Paresh Dave in San Francisco and David Shepardson in Washington; Chris Sanders and Rosalba O’Brien edition

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