Big Tech’s Upcoming Trip to Washington
CEOs Sit Down With Lawmakers
Today, the CEOs of four of the country’s largest tech companies were supposed to meet in Washington to speak in front of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel. A last-minute scheduling conflict with a planned memorial service for the late Rep. John Lewis means that the event has been postponed until Wednesday. Nevertheless, when it does unfold, the event will bring together Facebook (FB)’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s (AMZN), Jeff Bezos, Google’s (GOOGL) Sundar Pichai, and Apple’s (AAPL) Tim Cook.
The hearing will focus on whether or not these tech companies have engaged in monopolistic behavior. However, questions of misinformation, data privacy, censorship, and relations with China are also likely to come up.
The four companies have all faced criticism surrounding anticompetitive behavior. The hearing will be a chance for the government to ask questions and for the companies to defend their decisions.
Facebook will likely answer questions about its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, and whether these decisions were aimed at driving out competitors. Amazon will be asked about whether it creates products by using data from competing third-party merchants.
Google will discuss its conflicts with publishers who say the company has too much control of online advertising. Apple will talk about accusations that it prevented developers from offering users the option to make in-app purchases that don’t go through Apple’s system.
Misinformation, China, and Privacy
The CEOs will also be questioned about how their platforms deal with misinformation while protecting freedom of speech. For some time, lawmakers have been debating whether or not the Communications Decency Act should continue to protect tech companies that showcase third-party content. When this comes up, Democrats will likely criticize the companies for not doing more to prevent hate speech, and Republicans will likely voice concerns about biases toward conservative ideas on the platforms.
Lawmakers will also question the tech companies, especially Apple and Google, about their relationships with the Chinese government. Lastly, the question of privacy is likely to come up, as lawmakers have been discussing the merits of regulating data collection and targeted advertising. Relations between Washington and Big Tech have been rocky recently, and investors will be closely watching to see how these talks unfold.
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