The House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law today is hosting a hearing on “Online Platforms and Market Power.” In addition to the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, Sundar Pichai will be testifying about Google’s Search and advertising dominance, as well as antitrust concerns from Congress. Follow along as we highlight the most interesting questions and answers.
In his written statement last night, Pichai said that “Google’s continued success is not guaranteed.” In the case of Search, he argues that people are increasingly seeking information from Alexa, Twitter, and other one-to-one social networks, while Google does not have a dominant commerce offering:
Often the answer is just a click or an app away: You can ask Alexa a question from your kitchen; read your news on Twitter; ask friends for information via WhatsApp; and get recommendations on Snapchat or Pinterest. When searching for products online, you may be visiting Amazon, eBay, Walmart, or any one of a number of e-commerce providers, where most online shopping queries happen.
On the advertising front, Google points to shrinking costs, while they generally believe that its products live in “highly competitive and dynamic global markets.”
- The first question from Congressman Cicilline (D-RI) is for Sundar Pichai about accusations and “consistent reports” that it “steals content from other businesses.”
- “Google evolved from a turnstile to the rest of the web to a walled garden.” – Cicilline
- Cicilline accuses Google of threatening Yelp
- Congressman Buck (R-CO) criticizes Google dropping out of the JEDI military contract.
- Also critics Google for the Genius lyrics controversy, which is more an issue between Genius and the company that Google licensed the data from.
- Congressman Gaetz (R-FL) is criticizing Google’s AI Center in China as helping that country’s military. Pichai denies and reiterates that all it’s China work is focused on open source AI tools.
- Pichai tells Congressman Armstrong (R-ND) that there is robust advertising competition in light of a question about GDPR hurting small companies that cannot comply with regulation, compared to big ones.
- Armstrong asks Pichai about cellular warrants and geofence data.
- Congresswoman Demings (D-FL) criticizes Google’s decision to merge ad data related to DoubleClick.
- Congressman Jordan (R-OH) asks Google to not commit to a particular 2020 Presidential candidate: “Can you ensure that your products will not favor Joe Biden over President Trump?”
- Congressman Nadler (D-NY) asks about data collection in Chrome. Pichai says Google uses that information to improve products, and that ad personalization can be disabled. The representative also talks about Google and Facebook’s impact on the new industry.
- Pichai: “Google does not take into account commercial relations”
- Congressman Steube (R-FL) asks about YouTube removing videos related to COVID-19 offering solutions that have not been verified. Pichai says Google follows local health authorities, like the CDC, when removing content.
- Armstrong (R-ND) asks about Chrome’s decision to retire third-party cookies, and whether Google itself has alternatives to that lost data. Pichai points out that Safari and Firefox are doing the same.
- Congresswoman Scanlon (D-PA) asks about Google’s acquisition of YouTube, and whether it was due to a potential threat in 2006.
- Scanlon further asks about kids content on YouTube.
- Pichai said he was not aware of China stealing Google technology. He later corrected the record by recalling the 2009 cyber attack by the country that led to Google withdrawing services.
- Armstrong (R-ND) criticizes YouTube for limiting what ad tools are available to marketers. Pichai argues this integrated ad buying solution is how all platforms today operate.
- Jayapal (D-WA) criticizes Google’s control over the advertising marketplace.
- Neguse (D-CO) talks about the report that the ‘Android Lockbox’ lets Google monitor third-party Android app usage.
How to watch
The antitrust hearing with Google’s Sundar Pichai, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was expected to start at 9 a.m. PT, but Congress delayed it by up to an hour.
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