Senior executives from Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple will each testify at a House antitrust hearing later this month. That's according to reports citing a Twitter tweet from Recode co-founder Kara Swisher. The potentially historic hearing marks the first time the CEOs of each company will appear to testify at a single House Judiciary hearing.
Each of the companies' decisions to attend the hearing was reportedly conditional, with one exception. More directly, each company — except Apple — agreed to attend only if the others were able to make it happen. And Apple CEO Tim Cook was reportedly the last to confirm his attendance.
The hearing, confirmed in an interview with US Congressional Representative David Cicilline, will include Mr. Cook, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, and Google's Sundar Pichai.
What is this House antitrust hearing about?
The hearing serves as the final push by lawmakers in an ongoing investigation into the four companies. The investigation centers on antitrust laws. For clarity, those laws are set in place in a bid to prevent any single company from becoming too powerful. They are intended to promote vigorous competition and prevent anti-competitive practices.
Each of the four companies in question has become a hotbed of questions regarding how big they've become. Each has, for example, business dealings as web companies. But each also has real-world physical products across a plethora of categories in the technology market.
According to Representative Cicilline, it has become “clear” that the markets these companies participate in are “not functioning properly" on the competitive front. So the goal of this probe into the companies is to examine the circumstance more closely. With the potential of formulating new antitrust rules for the modern technology industry.
Summarily, the committee overseeing the hearing hopes to gain a better understanding of the situation, in order to formulate legislative proposals to reform and regulate the digital market. The hearing marks the final step in that probe. This will be an opportunity for the CEOs to provide the requisite insight into their respective markets. And for legislators to determine whether or not the companies are doing enough to keep everything above board.
When is this hearing happening?
After the hearing, the lawmakers will be settling in to review and compile their results. It's currently expected to happen in the last week of July. But not every CEO will necessarily appear in person. Instead, they may need to attend virtually due to still-rising figures in the global pandemic – particularly in the US.
In the meantime, this will not mark the end of trouble for any of the four companies in question. Each is also currently under investigation by the FTC and Justice Department. The former agency is investigating Amazon and Facebook. While the latter is investigating Google and Apple.
That investigation was kicked off around the same time as the probe by the House Judiciary Committee. And, unlike the hearing, could potentially result in more direct real-world consequences when it's finalized. The hearing, by contrast, is likely to result in new regulation and rules but not in any fines, fees, or punitive actions.