The leaders of the technology giants- Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple, representing nearly $5 trillion of the U.S. economy, have long been criticized for abusing their market power. The organizations have used anti-competitive business methods to suffocate smaller competitors and to secure a monopoly in the markets.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, will first time testify before congress and multiple questions need to be answered.
- How the company uses data from the independent businesses that sell their products on Amazon?
- Does the company use this data to optimally develop their products and sell them on the portal under their brand name?
- Does the company provide better promotions to the products under their hood?
The unfair advantage given to the products under their label is crippling the small businesses. Last year, the response to the above questions was, “Hey, that’s not supposed to happen. We’re going to look into it!” But it turns out that they are guilty of what they are being accused of.
Congressional Critics of Amazon believe this is a moment that will set the boundaries of what is legitimately admissible in the online market place. But there is still no clarity on how this will impact Amazon’s business model or shopping online more generally.
Augustin Reyna, from the European Consumer Organisation, told the BBC: “The question is more, in the medium-to-long term, if Amazon were allowed to continue with these practices, consolidating its market position, it would be able to restrict choice and push up prices.”
The issue with Facebook is its acquisitions.
- It purchased a photo-sharing app Instagram and the messenger service WhatsApp and aggressively cloned Snap. Such activities led to a time wherein social networking is mostly dominated by Facebook, which doesn’t leave users with much of an option.
- It has also taken anti-competitive actions, like blocking Vine users from discovering their Facebook friends on the app once Vine started to get recognition.
However, the social networking behemoth says it competes for users’ time against a wide array of services, including newer entrants such as TikTok.
But critics have taken interest in, Facebook’s insatiable appetite for data, which makes it impossible for other social networks to gain much of a foothold.
The hearing will unearth how executives talked about the issues internally when it was making the decisions in question.
Google probably faces the most serious near-term consequences of antitrust action.
The Justice Department is reportedly planning to file a case against Google this summer. Two separate investigations by the nation’s attorneys general are also underway — one led by Google’s home state of California, and the other comprising most other states.
- How Google promotes its products over rivals in search results
- Buying major digital advertising networks to build its half of the digital advertising duopoly.
Google has been faulted for its dominant search and advertising platform and the extent to which that harms an array of competitors, including news publishers. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company has said its search and ad services empower the Web and make it easier for users to find what they want.
Apple, antitrust dilemmas are centered toward its App Store.
The company procures a 30 percent cut of revenue from apps selling digital goods, including from apps that it competes with directly. The main question is
- Why third-party apps face the ecosystem malfunction when they compete with Apple’s product? Apps like Spotify, which challenges Apple Music, or Basecamp’s Hey, which competes with Mail and iCloud face the issue.
- Apple’s approval process for new apps
Epic Games recently told lawmakers Apple’s heavy-handed approach to the App Store. It makes it difficult for rival services to grow and maintain their popularity.
The House subcommittee will stream the hearing on its YouTube channel. You can watch the live stream here.