For five hours on Wednesday, the four Big Tech CEOs of the world’s most powerful companies faced a grilling from US lawmakers in Washington, in an unprecedented hearing over alleged anti-competitive practices at their companies.
The hearing was the first time that Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google’s parent Alphabet appeared together before Congress.
The Big Tech CEOs, appearing via video link, all faced moments in the spotlight from the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, with Pichai and Zuckerberg receiving the most attention. It was sixth and final hearing into competition in the digital market by the committee, and a culmination of more than 1.3 million documents and hundreds of hours of interviews and testimonies.
There are long-standing concerns that the four companies, worth a combined $4.85tn, have become too dominant for rivals to compete on the same level.
Antitrust regulators fear that a lack of competition will lead to higher prices for consumers. However, when digital platforms offer services for free – as Facebook and Google do – it is difficult for lawmakers to prove that consumers are worse off.
Another charge is that a lack of competition stifles innovation, which in theory could lead to subpar products and services for consumers. But given the four tech giants are known for being at the cutting edge of innovation, this is again difficult to prove.
As such, Congress is considering new antitrust laws that are appropriate for the digital age, which could prevent so much power being concentrated in so few companies.
Here are some of the key topics the Big Tech CEOs were grilled on.