Extraordinary hearing will see some of the richest men in history called to account for their firms’ market dominance
some of the richest men in history representing the most valuable companies ever created will be grilled by Congress on Wednesday , as US authorities get increasingly serious about whether tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet have become too powerful.
The extraordinary hearing will see Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google owner Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai called to account for the market dominance of their companies – dominance that many say was achieved through anti-competitive business practices.
听证会会看到亚马逊的Jeff Bezons,苹果Tim cook,脸书Mark Zuckerberg和Google母公司Sundar Pichai,要求他们对他们公司市场主导地位做出说明--许多人说他们的市场主导地位是通过不正当竞争企业手段取得的。
When the US House judiciary committee gavels into order its upcoming antitrust hearing the four star witnesses will represent more than $275bn in combined personal net worth – and more than $4.8tn in market value.
Wednesday’s hearing follows more than a year of investigation by the House antitrust subcommittee, whose chair, representative David Cicilline, began a broad inquiry into the market power of the tech giants after the Democrats retook control of the House in 2018.
The House investigation, along with separate moves by the Federal Trade Commission and justice department, represents the first time that federal regulators have taken a hard look at the tech industry since the Microsoft case in the 1990s. Over the intervening decades, a new generation of tech behemoths have come to dominate even more aspects of the economy with little if any scrutiny from regulators in the US.
The issues at question are complex and important; the questioning at congressional hearings often is not. When Pichai last testified before the House, one congressman asked him a question about his granddaughter’s iPhone, giving Pichai a chance to point out that, dominant as Google may be, it is not responsible for Apple products.
Here’s a preview of some questions these titans of technology should face on Wednesday:
Jeff Bezos, Amazon
亚马逊 Jeff Bezos
Amazon is not only the largest retailer in the world, but the largest cloud computing company as well. The company has grown even larger by running a marketplace where third-party companies can sell their products, for a fee. Many critics argue that Amazon should not be allowed to both run the marketplace and compete within it, comparing the situation to Amazon being both player and referee – an unfair advantage over the other team. Why should it be allowed to maintain this advantage?
For years, third-party sellers that use Amazon’s marketplace have suspected that Amazon uses sales data to launch competing products under its own private labels. Last year, an Amazon executive testified under oath that Amazon does not do this; but in April, the Wall Street Journal reported that it was “standard operating practice”. Did Amazon’s executive lie?
Amazon is a provider of cloud computing services, and some of its customers are also its competitors. Does it ever use data from its cloud customers to inform decisions about competing products?
Amazon is also an investor. Has Amazon ever used its role as a startup investor to inform the development of competing products?
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in demand, driving Amazon’s business to near peak holiday season levels. Have Amazon executives discussed taking advantage of the pandemic to move into new markets or extend its dominance of existing markets?
Tim Cook, Apple
There are 900m iPhone users in the world, and the only way they can download apps to their phones is through the App Store, which Apple controls. Apple gets to decide which apps can be in the store, and takes a substantial cut of their sales. How does that gatekeeping affect consumers?
Apple has repeatedly copied features from third-party apps, incorporating them into its operating system and rendering them obsolete. Why should that practice continue to be allowed?
Last month, the developers behind the email app Hey went public with a chilling complaint: that Apple was requiring it to use its in-app payment tools – and fork over a 30% commission – or the app would be booted from the App Store. Why does Apple deserve such a large cut of other companies’ revenues?
Sundar Pichai, Google
Google had $162bn in revenues last year, but that number hardly captures its dominance in products such as maps, email, web browsing and more. It all stems from the first product, search: Google handles more than 90% of all search queries worldwide. How is this a healthy competitive market?
Google’s dominance in search gives it unprecedented power to shape the information that reaches billions of people around the world. And Google has at times struggled to ensure that that information is of high quality. How does the company plan to improve search results? And should a single company have that much power in defining what the world gets to read?
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
For a time, the number of people using Facebook was larger than any other category of humans on Earth other than followers of Christianity; then Facebook grew even bigger. In recent years, Facebook has acquired Instagram, WhatsApp, Onavo, Oculus, CrowdTangle and Giphy. It tried to acquire SnapChat, then copied its most popular feature. It recently launched copycat versions of rivals Houseparty and TikTok. Is there a rival social media app that has gained popularity in recent years that it did not either acquire or copy?
有段时间,使用Facebook的人数比地球上任何其他一类人群数量都多,除了基督教信徒,然后Facebook生长的更大。最近今年,Facebook收购Instagram，whats app，Onava,Oculus，crowdtangle和Giphy，它试图收购Snap chat，然后仿制它的最受欢迎的功能.它最近发布了纺织品,类似竞争对手Housseparty和TikTok。有一个竞争对手社交媒体APP在近年流行,它没有收购或者仿制的吗？
On 26 June, amid a growing ad boycott over Facebook’s failure to curb hate speech, Zuckerberg reassured employees that “all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough”. What made him so confident that advertisers would have no choice but to return to the platform, whether or not it fixed the hate speech problem?
Facebook has responded to criticism of its record on hate by pointing to the vast amount of content published every day claiming that it automatically deletes nearly 90% of hate speech before anyone flags it. If Facebook is too big to prevent its product from being used to incite genocide and mob violence, isn’t it too big to exist?