Big Tech CEOS To Face Questions In Unprecedented House Hearing

LOS ANGELES—As Congress considers multiple bills that would damage internet privacy and free expression, on the rationale the big tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook and others have become disproportionately powerful, the CEOS of four tech giants will face a House committee for an unprecedented hearing on Wednesday. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google parent company Alphabet, will appear together at hearing of the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on antitrust issues — the first time that the billionaire leaders of the four major companies will appear together for congressional testimony. In fact, according to a Politico report, Bezos (pictured above, right) — who is the world’s richest person with an estimated net worth of almost $170 billion — will be testifying on Capitol Hill for the first time.  Zuckerberg (above, left) is estimated to hold the seventh position on the “world’s richest” list, with a fortune of $85.4 billion. Cook and Pichai’s wealth registers at relatively modest figures of $625 million and $600 million, respectively. Though the four men, arguably the four most powerful tech executives in the country, have never appeared in congressional testimony together before, the optics of the hearing will likely disappoint those who were hoping to see them lined up at a table side-by-side. The CEOS will reportedly appear via a video teleconference, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  Nonetheless, the hearing is shaping up to be a fateful one not only for the four CEOs, but for the future of online communication and commerce. Coming after a yearlong investigation into potential antitrust violations by the tech companies that has encompassed hundreds of hours of hearings and generated 1.3 million documents, according to an NPR report, Congress could ultimately pass new antitrust laws forcing the four tech companies to break apart into smaller entities.  As NPR reports, Apple is currently the world’s most valuable company with its stock worth an estimated $1.6 trillion, while Amazon accounted for 38 percent of all online sales last year and has 150 million paying subscribers to its $119 per year Prime service. Facebook has 3 billion users worldwide, and took in $70 billion in advertising in 2019. Only Alphabet sold more ads, taking in $135 billion in advertising revenue between its Google search engine and YouTube video platform, as well as its other services. The New York Times called the Wednesday hearing the tech CEOs’ “Big Tobacco moment,” referring to a historic 1994 hearing at which leaders of seven major tobacco companies appeared together to testify that they believed cigarettes were not addictive. The Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating Facebook, while the U.S. Justice Department will soon bring a case against Google, according to The New York Times. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at noon Eastern Daylight Time, 9 a.m. Pacific. A livestream of the hearing will likely be available via the House Judiciary Committee YouTube channel.  Photos Seattle City Council / Anthony Quintano / Wikimedia Commons 

written by: Lawrence Avery

source: Big Tech CEOS To Face Questions In Unprecedented House Hearing | AVN

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