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US Congress to Hold Anti-trust Hearing Against Big Tech Firms

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The United States Congress will today, 29th July, 2020, hold an antitrust hearing against four giant tech companies. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 12pm Eastern Time (17:00 Nigerian Time).

At the hearing, the CEO of tech giants – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, will be grilled by members of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law to determine if the companies have been abusing their power and dominance.

Appearing at the hearing would be Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. While most of the CEOs have experienced some level of appearance before the Congress, Jeff Bezos would be making his first appearance.

Republicans on the committee, led by Rep. Jim Jordan, pushed for the inclusion of Twitter CEO – Jack Dorsey – in the scrutiny. However, the request was unsuccessful, and Jack Dorsey will likely not be questioned at the hearing.

This antitrust hearing is the first major hearing by the Congress since Microsoft’s Bill Gates was questioned in 1998 for similar reasons.

According to a report by CNN, Facebook will be grilled for its online advertisement dominance, and acquisition strategy; Apple would be questioned for its app store policy. Amazon will be answering questions about its use of seller data; while Google’s scrutiny will be on its dominance as a search engine, and its advertising practices.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the antitrust hearing will be done virtually, using Cisco’s WebEx videoconferencing platform. The hearing is expected to be broadcasted on the House Judiciary’s YouTube page, which is used by the House to broadcast its Live hearings.

Watch the hearing here:

Prior to the commencement of the hearing each of the CEOs have presented their opening statements, and it has been posted online by the Congress.

Below are their opening statements:

Mark Zuckerberg

Tim Cook

Sundar Pichai

Jeff Bezos

While the four CEOs have their views presented differently, one similarity their opening statements present is that they all have competitions, against what is generally believed.

Jeff Bezos claims that Walmart has been growing significantly, and posing a competition for Amazon. Mark Zuckerberg claims that Facebook have competitions, especially in international markers where they don’t have access.

Sundar Pichai said Google does not enjoy monopoly in ads market, and that internet users have other ways to make their searches – by using apps, and AI built on their devices.

Tim Cook, on the other hand, claims that Apple faces strong competition from Android – as an operating system, and Samsung, Huawei, LG, as smartphone manufacturers.

This hearing, which was initially scheduled to hold on the 27th of July, was rescheduled after the death of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). John Lewis was a long-time civil rights leader, and was lying in state at the initial time set for the hearing on Monday.

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