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Tech giants defend their power in antitrust hearing

2020-07-29 18:51 by
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The chiefs of four of the biggest tech companies in the world - Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google - faced lawmakers today for a hearing on digital competition that could have cataclysmic impacts on an industry largely unhindered by regulators.

For over a year, top lawmakers in Congress have been investigating the four tech giants to determine whether the companies have abused their power and dominance in the online marketplace. Wednesday's event marked the culmination of that process and is the biggest hearing of its kind since Microsoft's Bill Gates went to Washington in 1998.

At Wednesday's hearing, lawmakers accused Google of having stolen content created by smaller firms, like Yelp, in order to keep users on their own web pages. Amazon's treatment of sellers on its site, Facebook's acquisition of competitors such as Instagram, and Apple's App store also drew attention.

Тhe executives defended their companies, saying their products helped smaller businesses and they remained vulnerable to competition from newcomers.

Apple boss Tim Cook said the business climate was "so competitive I would describe it as a street fight for market share in the smartphone business".

Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, acknowledged, albeit earnestly and transparently, that Amazon may have improperly used third-party seller data to inform its own product decisions - a key concern over the company's approach to competition.

Zuckerberg said he only viewed Instagram as a competitor with respect to sharing photos online, but not as an existential threat to be neutralized through acquisition. "With hindsight, it looks obvious that Instagram would have reached the scale it did today," he said. "At the time, it was far from obvious."

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