The hearing of the bosses of the four tech giants – Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – scheduled for Monday before a US parliamentary committee, as part of an investigation into possible anti-competitive practices, has been postponed. The judicial commission gave the information on Friday, July 24, without specifying the new date.
According to the American site Politico, the hearing is postponed because the funeral of John Lewis, an iconic non-violence and civil rights activist in the United States, is due to begin Monday in Washington.
The audience at the top is eagerly awaited in political and financial circles as pressure mounts, to the right, to the left and even sometimes internally, against the perceived omnipotence of digital platforms.
Abuse of dominant position
Sundar Pichai (Alphabet, parent company of Google), Tim Cook (Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) have agreed to answer questions from the Judicial Committee of the United States House of Representatives. For more than a year, she has been working on the possibility of abuse of a dominant position by GAFA, and on the relevance of existing antitrust laws and their application.
Google and Facebook, which account for the bulk of global digital advertising revenue, provide services “Free” have become largely dominant in their niche, such as the search engine or the YouTube platform for Google.
Facebook, with its networks (its main platform and Instagram), as well as its messengers (Messenger and WhatsApp), reaches around 3 billion people worldwide every month.
User interactions with these research, communication and entertainment tools allow the two companies to collect data on their profiles and sell ultra-targeted advertising space on a very large scale.
At Apple and Amazon, it is rather their sales platforms (the App Store on iPhones and iPads and the e-commerce site for Amazon) that are in the crosshairs of representatives, because the two companies are both hosting providers. and traders.
The four companies are also the subject of investigations and proceedings by regulatory agencies, the Department of Justice, US state attorneys general and other courts, on various topics, including data protection. personal.
An eventful audience expected
Last summer, the federal consumer protection agency fined Facebook a record $ 5 billion for failing to protect the confidential information of its users, followed by a $ 170 million fine on YouTube, for non-respect of children’s privacy.
On the issue of competition, surveys seek to determine whether these behemoths illegally prevent competitors from emerging, and whether their practices reduce innovation or affect consumers.
US law, as applied in recent years, requires that in order to authorize action against businesses that their actions clearly harm consumers, for example by driving up prices. The judicial commission does not have a priori objective in terms of prosecution in the courts.
Rather, observers expect an eventful audience, which will allow elected officials to mobilize public opinion on the hold of GAFA in daily, political and economic life. It can also lead, in the medium and long terms, to new stricter laws to regulate the platforms.