🕴️Breaking down the Big Tech antitrust hearing
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai went in front of Congress last week, remotely. Here are four quick takes for understanding what happened and what could happen in the future.
The focus was on anticompetitive behavior and bias: Most Democratic lawmakers questioned Google’s practices for steering search traffic to its own products and whether Facebook strong-armed Instagram into a sale. Republicans focused on the companies’ ties with China and concerns about bias against conservative views.
Apple got off easy: Cook had to answer just 29 questions. For Bezos, the number was 59 and Pichai 61. Zuckerberg, who has been slammed by Congress before, answered 62 questions. Zuck was considered by Recode to be one of the biggest “losers” from the hearing, having to deal with questions about antitrust and an inability to stop hate speech.
The November election could be a turning point: The Democrats have been more serious about overhauling antitrust laws. Election victories in the House, Senate and White House could put more heat on Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple.
Bipartisanship would be required: For major legal changes to regulatory laws regarding the biggest tech companies, Republicans would have to be involved, too. Slate noted that last week’s hearing seemed like the first time the two political parties had been relatively cohesive in a long time.