Representatives of the four largest tech companies were summoned to the U.S. Congress as part of a serious antitrust investigation.
We have heard many times that if a company’s scope and influence grows too large, it is summoned to a public authority or commercial supervisory body to prove here that its operation does not impede free market competition and its size and complexity do not impede other players. . But there has never been a way to summon four tech giants to explain at once.
However, the U.S. Congress summoned representatives of Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon for a joint hearing in the second half of July. The seriousness of the case is well illustrated by the fact that it is not some middle managers or vice presidents within the companies who are in charge of the subject who take part in the hearing, but Sundar Pichai, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos, so the first people in the companies.
Also of interest is the fact that although Zuckerberg has been a returning guest at such hearings in recent years, and Google and Apple have participated in a similar way, Amazon has now been referred to an antitrust committee for the first time.
Too many control too much
The “big four,” the four largest U.S. tech companies, are forced to explain together because the U.S. government (and, of course, persistent lobbyists of competitors) say it has grown so simply in all areas to stifle competition. Moreover, it has long been more than just a business bought directly: the citation also states that companies have outgrown the manageable range in terms of access to information, media and opinion-forming, and access to technological tools.
Photo taken at Mark Zuckerberg’s hearing last year
As an example, experts cite the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which has been criticized so many times in the case of Facebook, but not the data leakage part, but the fact that advertisements and targeted posts were able to influence the results of a presidential election through Facebook. They also need to report on the fight against scams and misleading information, as well as how much they leave an alternative for users, for example in terms of available software (since Android is officially only available on the Play Store and iPhones and iPads on the App Store). can be accessed via apps).
What will be the end?
For the time being, it is also interesting that antitrust investigations against companies have been dragged together at this level, so it is also an unknown question whether this will be the basis of a new regulatory system or legal procedure that takes tech companies under a hat, or whether what is said here will be used individually. in proceedings against individual companies.
It is not even known exactly what day the hearing will take place, just as it has not even been decided whether the congress will convene in a physical sense or whether a virtual hearing will take place in view of the coronavirus. And, of course, the outcome of this year’s US election could seriously affect the continuation of the matter, as the composition of the legislature could change significantly and, of course, the identity of the president could change, so the priority of this issue from the end of the year. .
The end of such an antitrust investigation can be varied according to experience to date. One of the first really big cases in the tech world dates back to the name of Microsoft back in the 1990s – there was even talk of the Windows system and too many default features built into it even breaking up the whole company, in the end relatively cheaply. floated the case – this is when the browser selector that popped up after installation was added to the operating systems, so that users could be in the picture right away, not only using the built-in option.
Google has run into something like this, and the end result is that, albeit not solely as a result of the process, the company has been transformed and divided, creating an umbrella company called Alphabet, which includes Google and a lot of other companies. They once outsourced areas that were once managed in one place, from the browser to the development of smart devices, and at the same time, the government twinkle was eliminated.