In an antitrust hearing held Wednesday, July 29, 2020, lawmakers probed four of the leading tech giants in the industry, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Under scrutiny, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos states that his company may have used proprietary data to compete with other platforms.
Besides Jeff Bezos, other chief executives were also present during the antitrust hearing. These include Tim Cook of Apple Inc., Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Sundar Pichai of Google. The hearing was conducted via an online video panel.
The meeting centered on the tech giants’ positions on the market and for scrutiny under different reasons, notes The Verge. The probe could set precedent on the future groundwork on taking enhanced regulations and legal actions on the four platforms.
During his questioning, the Amazon founder was grilled by Representative Pramila Jayapal on the company’s ability to use data from third-party sellers in influencing and competing against other sellers.
According to The Washington Post, an Amazon spokesperson, company lawyer Nate Sutton, previously denied such practices in the firm. Having access to proprietary data entails that the e-commerce giant has the power to influence what products work well on its platform.
In his statement, Bezos approached the subject cautiously, saying the tech giant had policies against the said actions. Reuters cites Bezos saying, “If we found that somebody violated it, we would take action against them.”
At the same time, while Bezos acknowledges the company policy that hinders the company from using third-party seller information or proprietary data, the Amazon founder also admitted that he “can’t guarantee you that policy has never been violated.”
The lawmakers on the committee also acknowledged the tech companies’ superiority in their respective fields, making it harder for other companies, sellers, and products to penetrate.
To illustrate the committee’s point on the matter, Representative Lucy Mcbath also commented on Amazon’s capacity to single out and block sellers from offering products falling under different categories, notes The Verge.
In response, Bezos claimed, “I do not think that’s systematically what’s going on. Third-party sellers in the aggregate are doing extremely well on Amazon.”
During different points of questioning and probing during the hearing, CNN revealed that Bezos managed to field or altogether avoid answering questions. Based on the report, Bezos remarked his inability to answer the question or that he could not recall the instance he was being probed about.
Following the antitrust allegations on the four tech giants, the committee is set to release their findings by late summer or early fall, reports Reuters.