Tech Executives Head to Capitol Hill for Antitrust Hearing

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Executives from tech giants Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Facebook Inc and Alphabet’s Google go before the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel Tuesday to discuss competition in online markets.

The committee is likely to discuss antitrust probes of the four companies under way at the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission, as well as allegations that the companies seek to thwart nascent competitors.

Democrats, in particular, are expected to press Facebook about a proposed $5 billion settlement between the company and the FTC to resolve allegations that the company violated a 2011 consent agreement by inappropriately sharing information on 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

In his testimony, Facebook’s Matt Perault, head of global policy development, notes that it faces stiff competition in social media from Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and others, and even stiffer competition in seeking out advertisers.

The other companies are expected to make similar arguments.

Other congressional panels Tuesday will focus on Facebook’s plans to bring out a cryptocurrency, the Libra, and allegations that Google is biased against conservatives in search results.

Witnesses include Facebook’s Perault; Google’s Adam Cohen, director of economic policy; Nate Sutton, an associate general counsel at Amazon and Apple’s Kyle Andeer, a vice president and chief compliance officer.

READ ALSO: Facebook fined $5bn for Cambridge Analytica scandal

While the tech companies appear to have few friends on Capitol Hill, there has been some pushback from Republicans against a proposal by Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, that Amazon, Facebook and Google be forced to divest companies that they purchased previously.

“I don’t think the goal of antitrust law is to break up a big company just because they’re big,” said Representative Kelly Armstrong, a Republican from North Dakota, on Fox Television. “I don’t ever want to penalize any company for success.”

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin, cautioned that the panel should use a “fair and balanced” approach to its probe.

Reuters

Samson Oyedeyi

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