WASHINGTON (AP) – CEOs of four leading tech companies — Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; Jeff Bezos of Amazon; Google’s Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Tim Cook – rejected accusations that their companies stifle competition on Wednesday during a hearing before Congress, where a House committee is wrapping up its one-year investigation into the market dominance in the sector.
Managers provided information to show how competitive their markets are, and the value of their innovation and essential services to consumers. However, they sometimes had trouble answering sharp questions about their business practices. They also had to confront various concerns about alleged political biases, their consequences on American democracy, and their role in China.
The four CEOs testified at a distance before lawmakers, most of whom were sitting, wearing masks, inside the courtroom in Washington.
Among the most difficult questions for Google and Amazon were allegations that they used their dominant platforms to compile data on competitors in a way that gave them an unfair advantage.
Bezos said in his first testimony before Congress that he could not guarantee that the company had not accessed vendor information to make competitive products, a charge that the company and its executives have previously rejected.
Regulatory authorities in the United States and Europe have scrutinized Amazon’s relationship with companies that make sales on its website and whether the online commerce giant has used information from sellers to create its own-brand products.
« We have a policy of not using vendor-specific information to help our private label business, » Bezos said in response to a question from Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal. « However, I cannot guarantee that this policy was not violated. »
In his opening remarks, Pichai highlighted Google’s value to family businesses in Bristol, Rhode Island, and Pewaukee, Wisconsin, in the districts of residence of the chairman of the antitrust commission, Democratic representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, and Republican James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.
However, the Google executive struggled when Cicilline accused the company of taking advantage of its dominant search engine to steal ideas and information from other web pages and manipulate its results to lead users to their own digital services in order to increase their Profits.
Pichai repeatedly rejected Cicilline’s attacks, noting that Google tries to provide the most relevant and useful information to hundreds of millions of people who use their search engine on a daily basis in an attempt to get them to return instead of leaving for a rival service. , like Microsoft’s Bing.
While Democrats focused primarily on market competition, several Republicans voiced long-standing complaints that tech companies are censoring conservative voices, and questioned their business activities in China.
« The big tech companies go for the conservatives, » said Rep. Jim Jordan.
In a tweet before the hearing, President Donald Trump challenged Congress to take action against the companies, which he has accused, without presenting evidence, of being biased against him and conservatives in general.
The Associated Press journalists Michael Liedtke, in San Ramon, California; Joseph Pisani, in New York, and Matt O’Brien, in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.
Gordon is on Twitter as: https://www.twitter.com/mgordonap.