Congress Could Issue Antitrust Report On Big Tech By Late Summer

The Congressional report expected to recommend fixes for alleged antitrust violations by the nation’s four largest technology companies could be issued soon, Reuters reported.

In a phone call with reporters on Thursday, July 23, senior aides from the House Judiciary Committee and the antitrust subcommittee said the panel has received 1.3 million documents from the companies, and that the final report could come later this summer or early fall.

On Monday, July 27, Committee members led by Chairman US David Cicilline (Democrat – Rhode Island) were scheduled to quiz the CEOs of Facebook, Amazon, Google parent Alphabet, and Apple as part of an investigation into whether the tech giant’s business practices are killing competition. But the hearing conflicts with a memorial service for the late Rep. John Lewis (Democrat – Georgia) that has been set for that same day at 2 pm in the US Capitol Rotunda, and so the hearing has been rescheduled. 

On Thursday, Reuters reported that the CEOs, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai of Google, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Jeff Bezos from Amazon, are expected to deflect criticism of their market power and say that they also face intense competition.

The executives, who plan to testify virtually, voluntarily agreed to appear and no subpoenas have been issued, the committee aides said. But tech lobbying groups have said the hearing is unlikely to address core antitrust issues or offer anything new. 

“There’s not much tech CEOs can do to appease anti-tech critics,” Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice, the Washington, DC-based trade group, told Reuters. “This hearing is not about finding truth, but creating news stories.”

The news service asked the Congressional aides on the call if the hearing would uncover new information. In response, a senior aide said that while there’s a risk that company executives will not always answer questions fully, it is important that their voices are heard. “This is not like a normal oversight hearing, where we hear from the CEOs and move on,” the aide said.

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