NATIONWIDE — In Washington this week, members of Congress are preparing to grill top tech CEOs over whether their platforms are preventing competition.
What You Need To Know
- Top tech CEOs to testify in hearing on Monday over preventing competition in digital marketplaces
- Sixth hearing to examine how antitrust laws apply to digital marketplaces
- Top tech companies can serve as a platform for other sellers and as sellers themselves
- More Political News
On Monday, tech leaders including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Google’s Sundar Pichai, will give testimony and be questioned by lawmakers on a House Judiciary subcommittee.
It’s the sixth in a series of hearings examining how antitrust laws apply to digital marketplaces. Members have already heard from legal experts and federal regulators.
“The hope is that the CEOs are going to have to account for the actual behavior and the actual documents of their companies,” Alex Harman, with the left-leaning consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, expressed.
Harman said these companies are in a unique position because they serve as both a platform for other sellers and as sellers themselves.
Unlike traditional retailers who sell their own store-brands alongside competitors’ products, these companies have access to tremendous amounts of data about consumers.
“They’re able to push their store brands or their most profitable products in a way that no brick and mortar retail store could ever do,” Harman explained.
The coronavirus pandemic has increased Americans use of online shopping places like Amazon, and caused a big spike in demand for products such as cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer.
Among the topics of discussion are reports of price gouging.
“I think there is a legitimate question to ask them, and there have been legislative, a lot of legislative proposals,” Harman said.
Amazon said it’s working with state-level prosecutors on price gouging complaints and backing calls for federal standards.
Hearings with high profile guests can get off topic during questioning, but Harman does not expect to hear much about some of the other issues the companies are facing, like Facebook’s approach to hate speech because there’s so much ground to cover on the main issue of competition.