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Datum objave: 30.07.2020
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'Too much power': Congress grills top tech CEOs in combative antitrust hearing

The US’s top tech bosses were told they have 'too much power' are censoring political speech, spreading fake news and “killing” the engines of the American economy, at a combative Congressional hearing on Wednesday.

'Too much power': Congress grills top tech CEOs in combative antitrust hearing

https://www.msn.com/en-xl/northamerica/top-stories/too-much-power-congress-grills-top-tech-ceos-in-combative-antitrust-hearing/ar-BB17lrPM?ocid=msedgdhp

Dominic Rushe and Kari Paul

Thomson Reuters Apple CEO Tim Cook testifies remotely via videoconference during a U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law hearing on "Online Platforms and Market Power" in this screengrab made from video as the committee meets on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., July 29, 2020. U.S. House Judiciary Committee via REUTERS

The US’s top tech bosses were told they have 'too much power' are censoring political speech, spreading fake news and “killing” the engines of the American economy, at a combative Congressional hearing on Wednesday.


The historic hearing in Washington saw Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google’s parent Alphabet appear before members of the House judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee, which has been investigating the companies’ dominance of the online world for over a year.


Subcommittee chairman David Cicilline struck a combative tone at the opening of the meeting, pointing out that the companies dominate their respective spheres and accusing them of stifling competition.
“Our founders would not bow before a king,” the Rhode Island Democrat said. “Nor should we bow before the emperors of the online economy.”


The complaints against the tech giants are varied but the overarching criticisms are that they have used their dominant position to quash rivals and overcharge the people and businesses reliant on their services. Republican lawmakers at different times redirected the conversation from antitrust to allegations of anti-conservative bias on the platforms, frustrating their Democratic colleagues eager to return to the investigations.


The tech industry has not faced such a high powered investigation since 2001 when the US government pushed to break up Microsoft. 


Cicilline opened the round of questions with allegations from small businesses that Google took over their content and listing on its own pages. Cicilline called the behavior “economically catastrophic” for other companies online.


“The evidence seems very clear to me that as Google became the gateway to the internet, it began to abuse its power,” he said.
In their defense, the tech bosses described their companies as American success stories. Bezos, the world’s richest man, noted that his mother was “a 17-year-old high school student” and his adoptive father is a Cuban immigrant. “Amazon’s success was anything but preordained,” he said before noting that the company had invested $270bn in the US over the last decade and created hundreds of thousands of jobs.


Zuckerberg said Facebook faced “intense competition”. “Facebook is a successful company now, but we got there the American way: we started with nothing and provided better products that people find valuable. As I understand our laws, companies aren’t bad just because they are big. Many large companies that fail to compete cease to exist,” he said.


Zuckerberg defended the acquisition of Instagram, arguing Facebook helped Instagram build up its infrastructure and security as it grew rapidly.


Referencing internal documents that revealed Facebook bought Instagram to neutralize it as a competitive threat, congressman Jerry Nadler called Facebook taking over Instagram “ exactly the type of anticompetitive acquisition the antitrust laws were designed to prevent.”
Zuckerberg also had to reckon with questions about the widespread ad boycott Facebook is facing. “We’re very focused on fighting against hate speech and our commitments to those issues and fighting them go back years before this recent movement,” Zuckerberg said.


Cook, the Apple CEO, faced effective questioning from representative Hank Johnson of Georgia, who said the investigation had surfaced concerns that rules governing the App Store review process are not available to the app developers. “The rules are made up as you go and subject to change - and Apple expects developers to go along with the changes or leave the App Store,” Johnson said. “That’s an enormous amount of power.”


Cook argued the App Store does not constitute a monopoly because it does not charge the vast majority of apps to list there. He said 84% of apps are not charged anything and Apple has not increased commissions on apps since 2008.


The hearing comes at a fraught moment for the tech giants with Republican and Democrats both highly critical of their dominance.


Donald Trump, who has attacked the tech companies on numerous occasions, weighed in ahead of the hearing: “If Congress doesn’t bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with Executive Orders. In Washington, it has been ALL TALK and NO ACTION for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it!”
Trump’s attacks on tech companies have escalated as Twitter and Facebook have made recent attempts to fact check the president and remove false statements from his account. Trump has accused Facebook and Twitter of censoring conservative views and launched numerous attacks on Bezos and Amazon. Bezos owns the Washington Post, which has been a persistent critic of his presidency.


Republican lawmakers echoed Trump’s frustrations and their insistence on questioning the platforms alleged anti-conservative bias on the platforms lead to conflict with Democrats on the panel.


“I will just cut to the chase: big tech is out to get conservatives,” representative Jim Jordan, a staunch supporter of the president, told the committee.


Representative Jim Sensenbrenner asked Zuckerberg why conservatives are “censored” on Facebook, claiming that Donald Trump Jr was removed from the platform for sharing a video containing false information this week. Zuckerberg politely explained to the representative that it was Twitter that limited Trump’s account for posting the video.


Wednesday’s hearing comes as other government agencies are also conducting investigations into the tech giants and the companies face criticism from politicians on both sides of the House.


Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has attacked Facebook for “propagating falsehoods” and earlier this year told the New York Times: “I’ve never been a big Zuckerberg fan. I think he’s a real problem. ... He knows better.”


Congress is considering rewriting antitrust laws but new legislation isn’t likely soon.
 Thomson Reuters Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook all raise their hands to be sworn in to testify remotely via videoconference during a U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law hearing on "Online Platforms and Market Power" in this screengrab made from video as the committee meets on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., July 29, 2020. U.S. House Judiciary Committee via REUTERS


Jeff Bezos of Amazon
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Bezos

photos
https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=jeff+bezos&qpvt=Jeff+Bezos&form=IGRE&first=1&scenario=ImageBasicHover



Tim Cook of Apple
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Cook

https://www.apple.com/leadership/tim-cook/


Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Zuckerberg

photos
https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=mark+zuckerberg&qpvt=Mark+Zuckerberg&form=IGRE&first=1&scenario=ImageBasicHover


Sundar Pichai of Google’s parent Alphabet 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundar_Pichai

photos
https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=sundar+pichai&qpvt=Sundar+Pichai&form=IGRE&first=1&scenario=ImageBasicHover






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