The heads of several of America’s largest technology corporations are heading to Congress to testify before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee. Among those expected to appear are Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The hearing is scheduled for Monday, July 27. But it may be postponed as Washington mourns the late John Lewis, a Democratic representative and civil rights leader who died earlier this week of pancreatic cancer. Lewis will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda beginning on Monday.
Axios reported the hearing could be rescheduled for the week of Aug. 3.
At issue in the hearing is the subcommittee’s “ongoing investigation of competition in the digital marketplace.” All of the companies have remarkable influence over their markets, and each is reportedly facing a probe by the Justice Department or a coalition of state attorneys general.
“Since last June, the Subcommittee has been investigating the dominance of a small number of digital platforms and the adequacy of existing antitrust laws and enforcement,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline said in a joint statement.
“Given the central role these corporations play in the lives of the American people, it is critical that their CEOs are forthcoming. As we have said from the start, their testimony is essential for us to complete this investigation.”
Here’s how you can follow along.
When is the hearing?
The hearing was originally scheduled to take place on Monday, July 27, at 12:00 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT. That was thrown into question on Thursday evening. The hearing could be rescheduled for the week of Aug. 3. It’s unclear how long the proceedings will last.
Where is the hearing taking place?
The hearing is currently scheduled to take place at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
Will the executives appear in person?
This part is unclear. In announcing the hearing, the accompanying press release noted that “under current House Rules, witnesses and Members are allowed to appear virtually.” Given the rise in COVID-19 cases around the country, it is unclear if the executives or members of the subcommittee will be appearing in person to the hearing or if they will instead opt to appear remotely.
How can I watch?
The House subcommittee will stream the hearing on its YouTube channel.
Why does it matter?
Regardless of what you do online, you’re probably impacted by at least one or more of these companies in a fairly major way.
Apple and Google operate the two most popular mobile operating systems in the world and respectively control iOS’ App Store and Android’s Google Play Store.
Apple has faced increasing antitrust concerns in recent months about its App Store practices, with the European Union recently launching an investigation into the digital store and the US Department of Justice rumored to be weighing similar action.
Amazon has its namesake mammoth e-commerce presence and manufactures its own goods, some of which compete with those from other sellers in its online store. This potential additional data that Amazon has access to came under fire after a Wall Street Journal report detailed how Amazon used such data to help it set pricing, determine which features to incorporate and decide whether it was even worth getting involved in a product category.
After The Wall Street Journal story came out, the House called for Bezos to testify.
Google and Facebook, in addition to running the country’s most popular search engine and social network, respectively, dominate the bulk of the digital advertising market.
Google has been under increased antitrust scrutiny by states around the country over its ad business, with the DOJ expected to file its own lawsuit this summer.
Facebook revealed last year that the Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation into the company’s purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp and whether they were made to stifle competition. Beyond Zuckerberg appearing before Congress, he as well as COO Sheryl Sandberg could be deposed by the FTC as part of its investigation.
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