The most powerful personalities of technology submitted yesterday, through a video conference, to the US Congress, to examine whether the practices they follow, as well as the collection of data of their users, affect their smaller competitors. During the antitrust hearing, tech giants were asked to answer difficult questions and "tough" documents that raised concerns about their competitive policy. Of the tech giants, including the CEOs of Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google, some did better than others in their "apology."
More specifically, the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos admitted in its "apology" that Amazon may have used inappropriate third-party data to develop and update its products, which is a major concern for the company's approach to competition.
At the same time, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, was faced with more "lenient" questions, since despite the first questions about whether Apple favors certain developers in App Store was asked to answer relatively few questions regarding the Apple App Store's instructions for developers, which were at the core of the criticism received by the company.
For more than a year, top lawmakers in Congress have been investigating the top four tech giants to determine if they have abused their power and dominance in the tech market. Yesterday's hearing before Congress was the culmination of this process, and it is the largest hearing of its kind since Bill Gates Microsoft went to Washington in 1998.
Of the four CEOs 'hearings, Bezos' "apology" was arguably the most anticipated, as the richest man in the world had never appeared in Congress.
After refraining from answering any questions asked during the first two hours of the hearing, Bezos was asked to answer a number of "sharp" questions about Amazon's approach to pricing, acquisitions and how it uses data from third party sellers.
Bezos has acknowledged that there is a policy prohibiting the use of third-party data to support Amazon's private enterprise. However, he said he could not guarantee that he had never violated this policy. At various points in the hearing, Bezos said either that he could not answer the question or that he could not recall the incident in which he was being asked.
On the other hand, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked to answer during his "apology" questions regarding some internal emails of the company that were sent in 2012 regarding its acquisition. Instagram.. These emails were collected by the Parliamentary Committee on Justice as part of its antitrust inquiry.
In a e-mail, Zuckerberg said that Instagram could be a "trouble" for Facebook. An email from Facebook's chief financial officer was about neutralizing a potential competitor, to which Zuckerberg replied that it was an incentive to get better. Facebook spokesman Jerry Nadler said the emails showed that Facebook considered Instagram a threat and, instead of competing, his company acquired it. Zuckerberg, for his part, did not deny that Instagram was a threat to Facebook, but noted that the deal had been approved by the Federal Trade Commission at the time.
The executives of Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google invoked in their "apology" patriotism, emphasizing that their companies are from America, for America. In particular, Bezos referred to confidence Americans have on Amazon, noting that the company needs American employees to be able to offer products to American customers.
Tim Cook said that Apple is the only American company whose success is possible only in this country, stating that it helped to create a large number of jobs for Americans.
Moreover, the competition between US and China for technological superiority was one of the arguments put forward by Zuckerberg in his deposition. In particular, he said that if you look at where the top technology companies came from a decade ago, you will find that the vast majority were American, while today, almost half are Chinese.
While Democrats have largely "hunted" the tech giants' CEOs for data usage, as well as their behavior toward rivals, Republicans during the hearing have consistently argued for a pattern of anti-conservative bias from tech companies. The Republican legislature's strategy seems clear: to encourage the media to cover allegations of ideological bias as equivalent and antitrust-related. However, the researchers failed to show evidence of systematic bias in terms of platform technology.
At some point, the Gregory Steube, a Florida Republican, cited Google CEO Sundar Pichai, citing as an example of prejudice what may have been a simple technical problem. Steube reported that it sends emails about its political campaign to its supporters, including its parents, are often blocked or registered in the spam folder at gmail. In general, questions related to Google focused on the search engine and its relationship with the Pentagon. Pichai, on the other hand, said there was nothing in the algorithm that had anything to do with political ideology.
In short, Democrats focused on accusations of anti-competitive behavior, while Republicans focused on prejudices about platforms.
The CEOs of Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google repeated during their "apology" in the US Congress the following phrases and keywords:
The CEOs of the tech giants are ranked, based on the difficulty of the questions asked to answer in the US Congress, as follows:
The final impact of the scandal on Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google will be judged by the measures proposed by the US Congress to address the antitrust concerns about the technology giants that led to this hearing.