Why Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google are going to Congress

by birtanpublished on August 17, 2020

The ceos of america's biggest tech companies have been called before congress it's all part of a major anti-trust investigation into just how much power these tech giants hold

So what exactly are the questions they're going to be asked and what does it mean for you let's break it down the ceos of apple facebook google and amazon

Are fronting up to congress to testify before the house judiciary antitrust subcommittee that's a long one tim cook mark zuckerberg sundar pachai and jeff bezos are expected to answer questions

About just how much power their companies wield and what that means for you in terms of what you can buy online the ads you see and the apps you use the ceos are expected to appear via video

Link this is a pandemic after all but you can still watch the whole thing online and you can probably expect some pretty tough questions the house committee has been looking forward to this one

For a while so what exactly are we going to see the hearing is part of a larger antitrust investigation into big tech now antitrust laws are essentially u.s laws designed to preserve competition

They stop economic power being wielded by just a few companies which in turn means more choices and better prices for you the consumer think of it like this if there's only

One big store in town then you have to buy everything from that store the store owner can charge whatever they want and they don't have to give you much choice not only that but it actually stifles

Competition because it stops other stores from getting a foothold in your town now you think that in the age of online shopping and social media you would be spoiled

For choice but the reality is there's still just a few big companies that get the lion's share of the action take google for example not only are they the world's biggest search engine

With a 90 share of the market but they also have a huge say in the ads that you see online which businesses might be highlighted on google maps oh and they also have that small video site known as youtube right

Now google isn't just answering questions from congress they're also facing an anti-trust probe from a coalition of attorneys general from 48 u.s states as well as d.c and puerto rico they're

Also reportedly facing other action from california and if that wasn't enough the department of justice is looking into them on a federal level so yes you can expect to hear a lot from google at this hearing

But what else are we expecting the ceos to answer to well you can expect sundar pachai to answer a lot of questions about google's ad practices the company has already been hit with

Billions of dollars worth of fines in europe for skewing search results for shoppers and other quote abusive ad practices for apple the focus will be on the company's app store

Now according to politico the department of justice is already scrutinizing apple's so-called ironclad control of the app store especially when it comes to apps that

Compete with apple's own products we can probably expect a lot of tough questions about whether apple de-prioritizes other apps and whether consumers face less choice and higher prices as a

Result over in europe the eu is already investigating apple around its third-party restrictions on apple pay as well as the high fees that it charges

On in-app purchases something that was called out by spotify next is facebook now ceo mark zuckerberg is no stranger to appearing in washington after the 2016 u.s elections he was hauled before congress

To answer questions about election interference as well as facebook's role in the spread of misinformation now with this hearing we can probably expect a few more questions on that

Topic but facebook is also going to be under scrutiny over digital advertising like google it owns a huge proportion of the digital ad market not only on the facebook platform itself but on other

Platforms like instagram which it owns now this is going to come as no surprise to you but according to pew research seven in ten americans use facebook and three quarters of those use facebook every single day so that's a lot of

Power in the hands of one company and finally amazon a store that americans have been turning to in droves while we shelter in place not only does amazon the company own the amazon retail store but it also

Manufactures its own products which compete with third-party products sold in the store that it owns now jeff bezos initially resisted calls to appear before the committee

And then the committee threatened to subpoena him so in june he said that he would be showing up so what does this whole hearing mean for people like you and me well based on past congressional

Hearings we're probably going to hear a lot of corporate talking points and promises to do better but don't exactly expect amazon to rock up and say it's going to stop selling its own products or for

Google to say it'll give up the golden goose of advertising but it is a sign that regulators are starting to take a more critical view of the role that silicon valley plays in what we can do online what we buy what

We see and how we shop and hopefully that means better prices for you and me and more choice of course cnet will be following the whole hearing so you can watch live if that's your nerdy thing

On cnet.com and cnet's youtube channels and if you don't want to watch the whole blow by blow then we'll have a wrap up of what it means for you after the fact all right i'm clear riley for cnet and i kind of live for this

Politics stuff stay safe out there guys

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