Lawmakers grill tech giants over their influence on consumers

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ The CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google testified remotely on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon, defending their business practices as lawmakers questioned how they wield their power over American consumers.

The CEOs ─ Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Sundar Pichai and Mark Zuckerberg ─ fielded questions from lawmakers during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, which comes after a yearlong bipartisan investigation into unfair business practices by the tech giants.

Rep. David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island, argues that their power over the marketplace is killing small businesses across the country.

“Simply put: They have too much power,” Cicilline said. “Any single action by one of these companies can affect hundreds of millions of us.”

“Why does Google steal content from honest businesses?” he asked while questioning Pichai.

“We support 1.4 million small businesses,” Pichai answered. “We see many businesses thrive.”

But lawmakers argue there’s little room left for competition. The CEOs pushed back, however, arguing that there’s still plenty of room for competition and opportunity on their platforms.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
This combination of 2019-2020 photos shows Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Evan Vucci, Jeff Chiu, Jens Meyer)

“We nurture entrepreneurs and startups,” Bezos said.

“If Apple is a gatekeeper, what we have done is open the gate wider,” Cook said.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, questioned Zuckerberg on his company’s efforts to crack down on fake accounts spreading misinformation.

Zuckerberg said Facebook invests “billions of dollars a year in doing so.”

Republican lawmakers also raised concerns over the platforms’ censorship of conservative voices.

“Big tech’s out to get conservatives… that’s not a suspicion, that’s not a hunch ─ that’s a fact,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said.

Zuckerberg argued that his company’s goal is to “offer a platform for all ideas.”

So far, lawmakers haven’t agreed on the right way to take a more active role in policing the top tech companies.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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