Are they monopolies?
The committee has spent months compiling evidence of alleged antitrust abuses. Businesses including News Corp, Oracle, Spotify, TripAdvisor and Yelp have all reportedly responded with evidence they claim shows technology giants have abused their dominant market position to squeeze out smaller rivals.
Members of Congress will demand answers from chief executives on whether they’ve grown too much and whether their monopolies need to be controlled. Large technology firms each insist they are not a monopoly.
Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple who is expected to appear later this month, said last year: “I don’t think anybody reasonable is going to come to the conclusion that Apple’s a monopoly.”
Is Apple unfair to app developers?
Days before Apple held its virtual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) event, where it revealed its latest iPhone software, the company became embroiled in a debate over the restrictions it places on app developers using its App Store.
Hey, a new email app, refused to give Apple a 30 per cent cut of people paying for its service, which led to Apple refusing to allow the company to update its app.
Apple eventually relented and allowed the app into its store, albeit without any option for people to purchase its services.
The incident caused a wider debate over Apple’s 30 per cent cut of in-app purchases and came after Brussels opened an antitrust investigation following complaints by Spotify and Rakuten. Members of Congress are likely to grill Cook on why Apple should be allowed its cut.
Is Google pushing its own services over rivals?
US politicians have taken a close interest in Google Search and how it ranks and displays results.
Google has already made changes to its Shopping service following an EU investigation into how it promoted preferred merchants over other sellers on the service.
But attention remains on whether Google is burying certain search results below information boxes and sponsored links, an allegation that Google has denied.
Yelp policy head Luther Lowe gave evidence in a Senate hearing earlier this year and claimed that Google had “betrayed the web”.
“Google physically demoted non-Google results even if they contained information with higher quality scores,” he claimed.
Is Amazon unfairly using data?
Members of Congress are likely to follow up on EU concerns that Amazon may have used its extensive data on sales taking place through its service to spot popular products and promote its own items over those of third-party sellers. The European Commission is reportedly preparing to file charges against Amazon alleging that it misused its data to benefit its own items, an allegation that the company has denied.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s boss, is the only chief executive due to appear later this month who hasn’t previously appeared before Congress.
Has Facebook bought its domination of social media?
Politicians are also likely to question whether Facebook has been able to spend millions of dollars buying smaller businesses in order to expand the number of users it has.
Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, published an essay last year calling for Facebook to be broken up.
In his essay, he wrote that Facebook’s 2012 purchase of Instagram for $US1 billion and its 2014 purchase of WhatsApp for $US19 billion enabled Facebook to continue growing and “acquire its way to dominance.”
When Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testifies later this month, he’ll likely need to explain how Facebook carries out its acquisitions and how they’re beneficial to the wider world of social media.
The Telegraph, London