Tech CEOs to testify before US Congress antitrust panel | News | DW | 29.07.2020
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Tech CEOs to testify before US Congress antitrust panel

The chief executives of Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google are set to appear before a congressional panel and argue that they face intense competition from each other and from other rivals.

At a major congressional antitrust hearing on Wednesday, the chief executives of four of the world's largest tech companies plan to argue that they face intense competition from each other and from other rivals.  

The testimony from Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Sundar Pichai and Apple's Tim Cook, which was released Tuesday, portrays four chief executives who are looking over their shoulders at competitors who could render them obsolete.

All four CEOs will testify remotely at the hearing, which comes less than 100 days before the US presidential election.

The tech bosses are expected to stress how they benefit consumers, particularly during the pandemic, and face competition — particularly from China.

Defending their companies' practices

Zuckerberg is to say that the internet giant would not have succeeded without US laws fostering competition, but that the rules of the internet now need updating.

Watch video 03:16

Are tech giants out of control?

"Facebook is a proudly American company," Zuckerberg said in prepared remarks ahead of what will be a closely watched House Judiciary Committee hearing.

"Our story would not have been possible without US laws that encourage competition and innovation."

Zuckerberg will be defending Facebook's acquisitions, including WhatsApp and Instagram, by stating that the smaller companies benefited from their association with the social media giant.

He will also use the opportunity to discuss the threat posed by China in the field of technology by building and exporting a version of the internet focused on "very different ideas" from the US model.

"I believe it's important to maintain the core values of openness and fairness that have made America's digital economy a force for empowerment and opportunity here and around the world," Zuckerberg is to say.

Testifying for the first time before Congress, Amazon's Jeff Bezos will paint the online giant as a vibrant American "success" story.

In prepared remarks posted online ahead of the unprecedented antitrust hearing, Bezos said Amazon occupies a small share of the overall retail market and competes with retailers like Walmart, which is twice its size. He also said the coronavirus pandemic boosted e-commerce businesses across the spectrum and not just Amazon.

Bezos also lays out how small sellers have succeeded on Amazon's third-party marketplace, a practice that has come under scrutiny from lawmakers.

Watch video 01:24

Fighting Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple

'Continued success is not guaranteed'

Pichai argued that search — which Google dominates by most metrics — was broader than just typing a query into Google, and said he remained concerned about being relevant as people turn to Twitter, Pinterest or other websites for information.

"We know Google's continued success is not guaranteed. Google operates in highly competitive and dynamic global markets, in which prices are free or falling, and products are constantly improving," Pichai said in the prepared remarks.

Apple's Tim Cook will tell the committee the company "does not have a dominant market share in any market where we do business. That is not just true for iPhone, it is true for any product category."

US lawmakers are investigating how large tech companies are hurting smaller rivals with their business practices and data gathering capabilities. 

The antitrust debate is being muddled by a rising "techlash" over a range of issues from privacy to economic inequality to political bias.

see/sri (Reuters, AFP)

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