Jul 29, 2020Sometimes, it's the little lies that are the most telling. Watching the leaders of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google face a filleting in front of the House antitrust panel on Wednesday, I kept ...
In his experience, he says, Facebook has been "willing to lie on the record." Nuñez recalled reporting on an internal poll in which Facebook employees asked Zuckerberg whether the company should do something to try to stop Donald Trump from becoming president. When he asked a Facebook flack about it, they denied the poll existed.
Jan 6, 2020The now shut down data modelling company, which infamously used stolen Facebook data to target voters for President Donald Trump's campaign in the 2016 U.S. election, was at the center of the ...
Senator Cruz then dropped a massive bombshell. Reading from the liberal doctor's testimony, Ted Cruz asked, "You said in subsequent elections, Google and Facebook and Twitter and big tech's manipulation, could manipulate as many as 15 million votes in a subsequent election?" "In 2020, if all these were supporting the same candidate, there are 15 million votes on the line that could ...
Facebook manipulated the news feeds of almost 2 million American users during the 2012 presidential election without telling them. The manipulation led to a 3 percent increase in voter turnout, according to the company's own data scientist.
June 25, 2020 ANOTHER Facebook Whistleblower: Interference 'On a Global Level in Elections' Another report demonstrating rampant censorship of conservative content by Facebook content moderators and an interview with the latest insider who experienced it firsthand was released today, by the non-profit media company, Project Veritas.
Facebook. Email or Phone: Password: Forgot account? Sign Up. How Google ManipulatesElections. Glenn Beck. September 17, 2019 at 5:10 PM · · Glenn sits down with psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein, who's research shows that "Google and the Gang" manipulates search results and platforms to shift American voter preferences to the left.
PAYBACK IS COMING FOR THE HIT-JOBS BIG TECH PUT ON THEIR SMALLER COMPETITORS
Companies’ individual offenses are a problem. The systematic coercion is worse.
By Zephyr Teachout
Zephyr Teachout is an associate professor of law at Fordham University.
On Wednesday, the House’s top antitrust subcommittee grilled big-tech CEOs Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos, who appeared via videoconferencing software. Some people called it tech’s “Big Tobacco moment” while others compared it with past antitrust investigations of Microsoft and AT&T. To me, the hearing — and the ongoing investigations — conjured another set of hearings from 70 years ago: the probe into mob activity led by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-Tenn.).
Those hearings led to a wave of enforcement, new laws and eventually, in 1970, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. What we learned at Wednesday’s hearing suggests the behavior of Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon calls for a comparably comprehensive and forceful response. (Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)
There are more than a few similarities between the organized crime and these four companies. Like the Mafia, the threats that Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google pose to American democracy flow from the power they have over key services (from email to social media to music and film), the way they use dominance in one area to achieve dominance in others and their ability to use fear to stop challenges to their control.
Like the Mafia, they are a resilient, surveillance-based shadow government. So citizens are dual subjects — of the country, and of the flawed online markets created by these companies. Like the mob, big tech has friends in very high places. Likewise, big tech is an oligarchy with several bosses, who compete in some territories but generally divide power among themselves, without consulting elected officials.
Obviously, I am not saying Facebook and Google murder and kneecap their opponents, or burn down businesses that refuse to play by their rules; I am not equating tech companies with the mob. While just about every Mafia enterprise was illegal, big tech operates in a legal gray area; these companies argue that they have broken no laws. They evade taxes using legal loopholes, not as the mob does by simply refusing to report income. Still, the analogy is useful, because it helps us think about a certain kind of oligarchic governing power that exists alongside — is interwoven with — responsive democratic systems. It helps us to think through what an effective governmental response to systemic interference with, dominance of, and bullying of businesses with less power might look like.
The hearing, compressed into one afternoon with all the CEOs present at one time, was not ideal, but arguably the best Congress could get without getting dragged into an extended legal fight over subpoenas. In one of the funnier moments, Bezos said, “I don’t want to be sitting here,” and then trailed off, revealing a basic truth.
It went far worse for the titans than you might have expected, given that oversight hearings often feature a series of sleepy (or pointlessly grandstanding) speeches and that big tech has at its disposal potent lobbyists and consultants from every recent presidential administration.
Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), who heads the subcommittee, kicked off the hearing with an explosive opening statement, arguing that the heads of the tech companies are acting like emperors, and they use three basic strategies — copy, kill and acquire — to make it impossible for upstarts to get a foothold. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) described the result as an “innovation kill zone,” because nobody is going to want to create a new product or service if they know their ideas will either be stolen, suppressed or bought at discount, under threat. A lot of the questions were about territory and fear — how the big four built their territories, how they protect it and how they intimidate small business owners and app developers.
Cicilline’s subcommittee used the time constraints well, pinning down the CEOs by using easy-to-understand examples of abusive strategies and explaining how they undermine freedom, equality and fairness.
In Amazon’s case, the hearing showed how the company directly competes against independent sellers in its online marketplace. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) forced Bezos to admit that while his company has a policy against using the data it collects on sellers and their products to create competing goods, he cannot promise the policy has not been violated. Bezos also admitted that a seller may get preferential treatment in a search result if they use affiliated Amazon services such as “fulfillment by Amazon,” Amazon’s storage, packing and shipping service. The result? Amazon made $60 billion from seller fees last year, and the average fees Amazon charges sellers has jumped from 19 percent of an average sale to 30 percent in five years.
While Amazon demands tribute, Google focuses on steering those of us who depend on its search engine to its own products. On average, 40 percent of the space on the first page of Google search results direct people to Google products, according to an analysis by the Markup, an investigative nonprofit group focused on tech. Rivals charge that the company scrapes content from other sites and uses it for its own purposes — content such as pictures from Yelp restaurant reviews. Cicilline said the committee had evidence that when Yelp complained about this behavior to Google, Google threatened that Yelp would not show up in search results.
Cook, of Apple, was sharply questioned about the 30 percent cut Apple takes when consumers pay for an app by an independent company, and why rival screen time apps disappeared from the store at the very moment Apple was promoting a similar product. Cook’s repeated response that protecting the “privacy and security” of consumers was the reason for expelling such apps — not protecting Apple’s financial interests — reminded me of the catchall “national security” defense that government officials often give when asked about questionable activities.
The committee presented documents it had uncovered showing that two months before buying Instagram, Zuckerberg wrote that the “nascent” business “could be very disruptive to us.” On the day Facebook bought Instagram, he told an engineer he was correct that “Instagram was our threat,” adding: “one thing about start-ups though is you can often acquire them.”
These are not small revelations. It is a violation of the Sherman Act to protect a monopoly by buying out or shutting out a direct competitor. It is telling that a congressional committee, not an antitrust enforcement agency like the Federal Trade Commission, revealed these exchanges. The federal enforcers seem not to have been looking — although state antitrust enforcers, who are already in the middle of their own big tech probes, will likely use the new evidence in those investigations.
But the subcommittee’s goal involved more than merely revealing specific instances in which laws might have been broken. This is where the echo of the Mafia hearings is strongest: Like Kefauver, Cicilline wants to reveal and then root out a creeping form of oligarchic power.
The Kefauver hearings educated the country about the potency and reach of organized crime and led to short- and long-term legal change. That committee’s final report recommended a “racket squad” within the Justice Department, a federal crime commission, bans on some forms of betting and the creation of what became known as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (when it was finally passed in 1970). RICO created major new penalties and civil cause of action for crimes that occurred as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise.
What the country understood after the Kefauver hearings was that when a large, networked institution engages in systemic bullying it is far more dangerous than occasional or individual wrongs; shadow governments cannot be squashed with piecemeal whack-a-mole enforcement.
If the analogy to Kefauver’s mob hearings holds, Wednesday’s hearings could spell the beginning of the end of abusive big tech power. Congress will rouse itself to use its subpoena power to unearth even more damning documents, and the public will realize that four self-important men should not govern us.
The equivalent of a RICO Act for big tech would be robust new antitrust laws and regulations, such as the structural breakups proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). All of these companies simultaneously own marketplaces and compete in those marketplaces, and they use their clout to maintain their clout. An effective solution would aim directly at their power, not just their practices — just as Kefauver did with the Mafia.
How To Prove That A California Politician Is Lying To You
By Conrad Brown
Aside from the standard retort: "when their mouth is moving"; it is unfair to assume that every politician has based their lives on political corruption.
Here is how to determine, with absolute certainty, if your public official is a lying scumbag that is just saying some "feel good" crap in order to trick you into letting them get away with their stock market scams.
You ask then to prove to you that they, and their family members, are not receiving the following quid-pro-quo: Billions of dollars of Google, Twitter, Facebook, Tesla, Netflix and Sony Pictures stock and stock warrants which is never reported to the FEC; Billions of dollars of Google, Twitter, Facebook, Tesla, Netflix and Sony Pictures search engine rigging and shadow-banning which is never reported to the FEC; Free rent; Male and female prostitutes; Cars; Dinners; Party Financing; Sports Event Tickets; Political campaign printing and mailing services "Donations"; Secret PAC Financing; Jobs in Corporations in Silicon Valley For The Family Members of Those Who Take Bribes And Those Who Take Bribes; "Consulting" contracts from McKinsey as fronted pay-off gigs; Overpriced "Speaking Engagements" which are really just pay-offs conduited for donors; Private jet rides and use of Government fuel depots (ie: Google handed out NASA jet fuel to staff); Real Estate; Fake mortgages; The use of Cayman, Boca Des Tores, Swiss and related money-laundering accounts; Bribes to Stanford officials to admit their kids to college; The use of HSBC, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Deustche Bank money laundering accounts and covert stock accounts; Free spam and bulk mailing services owned by Silicon Valley corporations; Use of high tech law firms such as Perkins Coie, Wilson Sonsini, MoFo, Covington & Burling, etc. to conduit bribes to officials; and other means now documented by us, The FBI, the FTC, The SEC, The FEC and journalists.
Then you ask the FBI, GAO, SEC, FEC, FTC and Congress (who work for you, the taxpayer) to prove it to you.
Then you ask the community service forensics groups like Cause Of Action, Judicial Watch, Sunlight Foundation, ICIJ, Ralph Nader, and all of the other public forensics groups to prove it to you.
Then you buy some books on "How To Be A Private Investigator" and prove it to yourself.
Then you can see if they are lying or not.
For example; the politicians and families of Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, etc. own the companies that offer the "solutions" to green energy "problems" that they promote. In other words: These politicians control and exploit the profits to the thing they are screaming about! They positioned themselves to make exclusive profits on issues that they made into big deals!
Tilak Doshi reveals that widespread view that fossil fuels are “dirty” and renewables such as wind and solar energy and electric vehicles are “clean” has become a fixture of mainstream media and policy assumptions across the political spectrum in developed countries. Indeed the ultimate question we are led to believe is how quickly can enlightened Western governments, led by an alleged scientific consensus, “decarbonize” with clean energy in a race to save the world from impending climate catastrophe. The ‘net zero by 2050’ mantra, calling for carbon emissions to be completely mitigated within three decades, is now the clarion call by governments and intergovernmental agencies around the developed world, ranging from several EU member states and the UK, to the International Energy Agency and the International Monetary Fund.
Let’s start with Elon Musk’s Tesla. In an astonishing achievement for a company that has now posted four consecutive quarters of profits, Tesla is now the world’s most valuable automotive company. Demand for EVs is set to soar, as government policies subsidize the purchase of EVs to replace the internal combustion engine of gasoline and diesel-driven cars and as owning a “clean” and “green” car becomes a moral testament to many a virtue-signaling customer.
Yet, if one looks under the hood of “clean energy” battery-driven EVs, the dirt found would surprise most. The most important component in the EV is the lithium-ion rechargeable battery which relies on critical mineral commodities such as cobalt, graphite, lithium, and manganese. Tracing the source of these minerals, in what is called “full-cycle economics”, it becomes apparent that EVs create a trail of dirt from the mining and processing of minerals upstream.
A recent United Nations report warns that the raw materials used in electric car batteries are highly concentrated in a small number of countries where environmental and labour regulations are weak or non-existent. Thus, battery production for EVs is driving a boom in small-scale or “artisanal” cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo which supplies two thirds of global output of the mineral. These artisanal mines, which account for up to a quarter of the country’s production, have been found to be dangerous and employ child labour.
Mindful of what the image of children scrabbling for hand-dug minerals in Africa can do to high tech’s clean and green image, most tech and auto companies using cobalt and other toxic heavy metals avoid direct sourcing from mines. Tesla Inc. TSLA-0.8%struck a deal last month with Swiss-based Glencore Plc to buy as much as 6,000 tons of cobalt annually from the latter’s Congolese mines. While Tesla has said it aims to remove reputational risks associated with sourcing minerals from countries such as the DRC where corruption is rampant, Glencore assures buyers that no hand-dug cobalt is treated at its mechanized mines.
There are 7.2 million battery EVs or about 1% of the total vehicle fleet today. To get an idea of the scale of mining for raw materials involved in replacing the world’s gasoline and diesel-fueled cars with EVs, we can take the example of the UK as provided by Michael Kelly, the Emeritus Prince Philip Professor of Technology at the University of Cambridge. According to Professor Kelly, if we replace all of the UK vehicle fleet with EVs, assuming they use the most resource-frugal next-generation batteries, we would need the following materials: about twice the annual global production of cobalt; three quarters of the world’s production lithium carbonate; nearly the entire world production of neodymium; and more than half the world’s production of copper in 2018.
And this is just for the UK. Professor Kelly estimates that if we want the whole world to be transported by electric vehicles, the vast increases in the supply of the raw materials listed above would go far beyond known reserves. The environmental and social impact of vastly-expanded mining for these materials — some of which are highly toxic when mined, transported and processed – in countries afflicted by corruption and poor human rights records can only be imagined. The clean and green image of EVs stands in stark contrast to the realities of manufacturing batteries.
Proponents of EVs might counter by saying that despite these evident environmental and social problems associated with mining in many third world countries, the case remains that EVs help reduce carbon dioxide emissions associated with the internal combustion engines run on gasoline and diesel fuels. According to the reigning climate change narrative, it is after all carbon dioxide emissions that are threatening environmental catastrophe on a global scale. For the sake of saving the world, the climate crusaders of the richer nations might be willing to ignore the local pollution and human rights violations involved in mining for minerals and rare earths in Africa, China, Latin America and elsewhere.
While one might question the inherent inequity in imposing such a trade-off, the supposed advantages of EVs in emitting lower carbon emissions are overstated according to a peer-reviewed life-cycle study comparing conventional and electric vehicles. To begin with, about half the lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to produce the car, especially in the mining and processing of raw materials needed for the battery. This compares unfavorably with the manufacture of a gasoline-powered car which accounts for 17% of the car’s lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions. When a new EV appears in the show-room, it has already caused 30,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emission. The equivalent amount for manufacturing a conventional car is 14,000 pounds.
Once on the road, the carbon dioxide emissions of EVs depends on the power-generation fuel used to recharge its battery. If it comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, it will lead to about 15 ounces of carbon-dioxide for every mile it is driven—three ounces more than a similar gasoline-powered car. Even without reference to the source of electricity used for battery charging, if an EV is driven 50,000 miles over its lifetime, the huge initial emissions from its manufacture means the EV will actually have put more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere than a similar-size gasoline-powered car driven the same number of miles. Even if the EV is driven for 90,000 miles and the battery is charged by cleaner natural-gas fueled power stations, it will cause just 24% less carbon-dioxide emission than a gasoline-powered car. As the skeptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg puts it, “This is a far cry from ‘zero emissions’".
As most ordinary people mindful of keeping within modest budgets choose affordable gasoline or diesel-powered cars, experts and policy advisors the world over have felt compelled to tilt the playing field in favor of EVs. EV subsidies are regressive: given their high upfront cost, EVs are only affordable for high-income households. It is egregious that EV subsides are funded by the average tax-payer so that the rich can buy their EVs at subsidized prices.
The determination not to know or to look away when the facts assail our beliefs is an enduring frailty of human nature. The tendency towards group think and confirmation bias, and the will to affirm the “scientific consensus” and marginalize sceptics, are rife in considerations by the so-called experts committed to advocating their favorite cause. In the case of EVs, the dirty secrets of “clean energy” should seem apparent to all but, alas, there are none so blind as those who will not see.
So these politicians are lying and covering up safety defects and corruption in order to protect their business partner Elon Musk. Musk puts money in their pockets.
It is even worse than that!
Brianne Burr, says that politicians break the very same laws they create. Federal officials recently found three California senators to be corrupt.
While no state or country is completely immune from corruption, some are worse than others. The state of California, for example, has seen significant government corruption in recent times. This corruption can drastically affect the lives of its leaders, but more importantly, citizens are impacted directly.
Three state senators in California have been found to be corrupt by federal officials. These state senators were suspended from attending sessions of the California State senate. And while their corrupt voices are banned, the people they represent have no voice at all.
Sadly, this is only true of those who are caught. Former mayors and current city officials have been arrested for political corruption, and still the problem remains. There are governmental structures in place that enable and indeed, encourage corruption in our public officials. And because of it, far more engage in corruption without getting caught and punished.
How Much California Corruption Should We Tolerate?
In an article published in City Watch LA, Clinton Galloway asks us, “How much should we tolerate?” He indicates that if the same ratio of corruption were to exist in the city of Los Angeles, roughly 50K would be felons and 100K would be federally indicted for major crimes.
“While we will not tolerate anarchy in the streets, we will tolerate it in our legislative bodies,” he says.
Galloway’s poignant question alludes to a greater problem than corruption in our government. Yes, there is structure in place that fosters corruption and fails to dissuade it. But the people allow these things to happen. We do not do much to call corruption, generally speaking, but simply voice our distrust our government.
One final question posed by Galloway asks us, what does law even mean if we do not have integrity to uphold it? We see politicians creating laws and breaking them. We see politicians make oaths to uphold the law, and yet they behave as though they are above the law.
And what of those public officials who strive to honestly and judiciously govern? Each day, their numbers seem to diminish as corruption spreads to more of our governmental bodies. The FBI must overtly arrest each of these crooks and do it sooner than later!
Feb 3, 2018Tech giants are the robberbarons of our time By Kevin Carty. ... It is hard to predict what the American economy will look like if the bigtech platforms are permitted to continue their unchecked ...
4 days agoDemocrat Jamie Raskin added: "In the 19th century we had the robberbarons, in the 21st century we get the cyber barons." ... The president suggests that BigTech has had unfair treatment for too ...
Bigtech chiefs cast as 21st century robberbarons at US hearing Irish Times | Jul 30, 2020 at 2:31 PM A six-hour video conference with four of the world's biggest tech bosses was never going to match the drama of a real-life hearing before Congress, and that was before the technical glitches and delays on the line.
If you think that is shocking, wait until you see the report coming out in September 2020!
THIS VIDEO WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT BIG TECH!
See The Heads of Facebook, Amazon, Apple & Google Testify on Their Antitrust Law Schemes And Defrauding Of Inventors
The heads of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook testified on antitrust law before a House Judiciary subcommittee and feign ignorance, deny, defer and deflect as their crimes, lies and collusion is unpeeled like an onion after a decade long investigation and deep under-cover work by special investigators.
We testified about how they called us in and pretended be "interested in investing" ; copied our companies and technologies; ran media hit-jobs and black-lists to stall us; and made their own copies of our technology which they then made billions of dollars off of. Many other victims have now testified to deeply confirm their dirty deeds, with ample evidence now on-the-record.
"...Given equal legal resources against any of these copycat IP theives, I will meet them in a federal jury trial, live televised Congressional hearing, FBI or FTC hearing and/or Grand Jury Trial any time, anywhere, and prove our charges against them before a Court of Law using FBI-quality evidence. Their internal email leaks, whistle-blower expose's and financial records are flowing across the web and revealing all of their schemes and lies.."
What kinds of bribes were paid between the oligarchs, politicians and government agency bosses per reports to the FBI, DOJ, FEC and SEC?
"...Billions of dollars of Google, Twitter, Facebook, Tesla, Netflix and Sony Pictures stock and stock warrants which is never reported to the FEC; Billions of dollars of Google, Twitter, Facebook, Tesla, Netflix and Sony Pictures search engine rigging and shadow-banning which is never reported to the FEC; Free rent; Male and female prostitutes; Cars; Dinners; Party Financing; Sports Event Tickets; Political campaign printing and mailing services "Donations"; Secret PAC Financing; Jobs in Corporations in Silicon Valley For The Family Members of Those Who Take Bribes And Those Who Take Bribes; "Consulting" contracts from McKinsey as fronted pay-off gigs; Department of Energy 'Friends-Only' financing; Overpriced "Speaking Engagements" which are really just pay-offs conduited for donors; Private jet rides and use of Government fuel depots (ie: Google handed out NASA jet fuel to staff); Real Estate; Fake mortgages; The use of Cayman, Boca Des Tores, Swiss and related money-laundering accounts; Bribes to Stanford officials to admit their kids to college; The use of HSBC, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Deustche Bank money laundering accounts and covert stock accounts; Free spam and bulk mailing services owned by Silicon Valley corporations; Use of high tech law firms such as Perkins Coie, Wilson Sonsini, MoFo, Covington & Burling, etc. to conduit bribes to officials; and other means now documented by us, The FBI, the FTC, The SEC, The FEC and journalists. .."
By Donald Zuhn -- On Friday, USPTO Director David Kappos addressed the impact of budgetary constraints on some of the PatentOffice's plans for the coming year. He did so on his Director's Forum blog, where the Director (at right) noted that following enactment of the budget for FY 2011 on April 15, the Office's total spending authority through the end of the fiscal year (i.e., September 30 ...
Jul 29, 2013Google Inc. and 3M Co. are among the top patent-holding companies that agreed two years ago to pay higher fees if Congress let the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office use the funds to address a work ...
Agencies lobbied since 2019: Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) Affiliated organizations: Harmonia Holdings LLC . Lobbyists. Lobbyists named here were listed on a filing related to this lobbying engagement. They may not be working on it now. Occasionally, a single lobbyist whose name is spelled two different ways on filings may be represented ...
Jul 19, 2017Given Google's co-founding of yet another new anti-patent lobbying organization called the High Tech Inventor's Alliance (HTIA), we can hope for the best, but we'd better plan for the worst ...
The Patent and Trademark Office has granted so many flimsy patents in part because of a flood of patent applications. The agency is currently sitting on a backlog of more than 700,000 applications. With so much on its to-do list, the PTO frequently approves unwarranted patents, and first-to-file could encourage an even greater deluge.
Oct 26, 2014Google Inc. has acquired about 14 percent of the expedited patents that have been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office since the program began in 2011, far more than any other entity.
Franklin Square Group, LLC filed a lobbying registration on March 25, 2019 to represent High Tech Inventors Alliance, effective March 1, 2019. Original Filing: 301021816.xml Issue(s) they said they'd lobby about: Issues related to intellectual property legislation and regulation .
When on topic, legislators relished a rare opportunity to discuss major corporate acquisitions and press the CEOs on allegations of anticompetitive behavior in their respective product spaces. While the other tech execs had appeared before Congress ...
Zuckerberg took a thinly-veiled swipe at TikTok in his published opening remarks to the House antitrust subcommittee, saying "Facebook is a proudly American company" which embraces American values like "democracy,
On Wednesday, July 29, at 12:00 p.m. ET, the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google will appear together at a congressional hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law.
U.S. technology giants have too much power and control over digital markets and are harming workers, consumers and small businesses across the economy, said the Democratic lawmaker leading a House inquiry into the companies.
House lawmakers on Wednesday grilled the heads of some of the world's largest tech companies - with Democrats questioning whether the companies violated U.S. antitrust laws and stole from competitors, while Republicans slammed them over alleged censorship and bias against conservatives.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai of Google and Apple's Tim Cook testified before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, each telling tales they face competition not only from one another, but other large companies inside and outside the country as well.
In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I, said the committee had spoken to more than 100 sources with 100s of hours talking to them about the behaviors of the marketplace, noting it's "the most bipartisan issue" in some time on Capitol Hill.
"Our founders did not bow before a king and we should now bow before the emperors of the online economy," Cicilline said.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, came out swinging, noting "big tech is out to get conservatives." Jordan cited several examples of alleged bias against Facebook, Google and Amazon, as well as Twitter, which was not involved in the hearing.
File photo: This combination of pictures shows the logos of the GAFA's, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, displayed on a tablet in Paris, on February 18, 2019. (LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images, File)
Rep. Cicilline peppered Pichai with questions that Google was "stealing" information from other tech companies, including restaurant reviews from Yelp, or using its data in a nefarious way to spy on its competitors. Google's CEO denied the accusations, noting it, like other companies, works to provide the best experience for its customers.
Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., asked Zuckerberg about censoring ideas, specifically from conservative viewpoints, including mentioning Donald Trump Jr.'s temporary ban on Twitter (which did not involve Facebook) for posting a video that claimed antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine is a cure for COVID-19, a virus for which there is no known cure.
"Frankly, I think we've distinguished ourselves as one that defends freedom of expression the most," Zuckerberg replied, adding Facebook bans categories of harm such as terrorist propaganda, child exploitation, intellectual privacy violations and things like hate speech.
Later in the hearing, Jordan pressed Google's Pichai to promise that the company would not censor conservative voices on its search engine and would refrain from helping the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden win November's election. Jordan claimed Google employees worked to help Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2016 when she was the nominee.
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz questions Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai during House hearing.
"You did it in 2016," Jordan said. "I just want to make sure you’re not going to do it in 2020."
Pichai argued that the tech giant complied with all federal laws in 2016 and will continue to do so.
"We engage with campaigns according to law and approach our work in a nonpartisan way," he said. "Any work we do around the elections is nonpartisan."
He added: "You have my commitment."
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., wondered whether Facebook could do more to protect against social and gender discrimination on its platforms. Zuckerberg said the company has taken several steps, including investing in artificial intelligence, fighting against hate speech.
In recent weeks, several large advertisers have boycotted advertising on Facebook, including Unilever, Disney and others.
Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., asked Cook about Apple's App Store policies, questioning whether Apple is wielding "an enormous amount of developer at the expense of app developers." He prodded Cook on whether Apple treats all app developers equally, which Cook said they did.
Cook also likened the competition for developers as a "street fight" in the smartphone business, citing competition that includes Microsoft Xbox, Windows, Google's Android and Sony PlayStation.
The CEOs were testifying as the House panel was capping its yearlong investigation into market dominance in the industry.
In his testimony, Bezos, who had never testified in front of Congress before, described Amazon as an American success story, having been founded 26 years ago “with the long-term mission of making it Earth’s most customer-centric company,” according to his opening statement.
“It’s not a coincidence that Amazon was born in this country,” Bezos' prepared statement read. “More than any other place on Earth, new companies can start, grow, and thrive here in the U.S. Our country embraces resourcefulness and self-reliance, and it embraces builders who start from scratch.”
Meanwhile, Facebook’s Zuckerberg said social media, which Americans are increasingly wary of, is part of an industry that has changed the world. “We face intense competition globally and we only succeed when we build things people find valuable,” Zuckerberg said according to a witness statement on the subcommittee's website. “I’m proud that we stand for American values like giving every person a voice and expanding access to opportunity.”
In his opening remarks, Pichai mentioned the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, noting nearly one-third of small businesses said that without business tools, they would have had to have closed.
In his opening remarks, Cook defended the App Store, noting it's responsible for 1.9 million jobs and $138 billion in 2019 commerce. Cook added that of the 1.7 million apps in the App Store, just 60 of them are made by Apple.
President Trump weighed in on the matter, tweeting he would take action against the big tech companies if Congress did not do so.
It is presently unclear what actions Trump himself could take against the group. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment from Fox News.
The hearing provided some insight into the 15 members of Congress, who may create legislation or recommendations that could include new competition laws or potentially breaking up the tech giants.
Cicilline has called the four companies monopolies. In 2019, he called on the FTC to investigate Facebook. “Given all that we’ve learned recently about Facebook’s predatory behavior, it’s clear that serious enforcement is long overdue,” he said in a statement.
Cicilline, who has investigated the companies for nearly 13 months, believed breaking the Big Tech companies up should be a last resort, The Associated Press reported.
Most Americans have said social media companies had too much power and influence in politics, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center.
According to research conducted between June 16 and June 22, 72 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said social media firms wield too much power and influence. “Majorities of both Republicans and Democrats believe social media companies wield too much power, but Republicans are particularly likely to express this view,” the Pew Research Center said in a statement.
Concerns about anti-trust violations have cropped up among the four companies. Combined, the four accounted for more than $770 billion in 2019 revenue, including $260.1 billion for Apple and $280.5 billion for Amazon, the two largest companies by market cap.
Amazon is expected to account for 38 percent of U.S. e-commerce sales and 5.5 percent of total U.S. retail sales in 2020, according to research firm eMarketer. Of that, 41.1 percent comes directly from Amazon and 58.9 percent is from Amazon Marketplace, Amazon's third-party business, which allows other sellers to use the company's platform to sell goods.
Google and Facebook (including Facebook-owned Instagram) are the two biggest digital advertisers, combined for more than 80 percent of all digital ad spending. However, Google is expected to show a drop in revenue share, declining from 31.6 percent in 2019, largely "driven by a COVID-related pullback in travel industry ad spending," eMarketer added.
Amazon, which has only been generating ad revenue for a few years, accounts for 9.5 percent of the U.S. digital ad market, expected to rise to 10 percent in 2021, eMarketer said.
However, there was concern that the hearings were little more than political theater, with some, including independent think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), wondering what lawmaker's true intentions are.
"It’s important to step back and remember that these companies create enormous value for hundreds of millions of users and small businesses and that the United States does not lack adequate antitrust policy to address any legitimate concerns if they abuse their market power," ITIF President Robert D. Atkinson said in a statement obtained by Fox News. "Congress shouldn’t twist antitrust law to launch an ill-defined broadside on Internet platforms as a class."
"Monopolists traditionally try to boost profits by reducing supply," Atkinson added. "These companies aggressively innovate in an effort to attract and retain users with new and better products and services at low cost. This is exactly how markets should act. To punish these companies for their success would be to risk killing the proverbial geese that lay the U.S. economy’s golden eggs, which would only empower China and other foreign competitors while limiting a powerful business model for other industries in the future."
CNN: Congress zeroes in on Google during historic tech antitrust hearing
CEO Sundar Pichai takes intense heat from lawmakers.
The leaders of four of the world's most powerful tech companies -- Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google -- appeared on Wednesday before a House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust. But one company took more of the lawmakers' heat than others: Google.
Sundar Pichai, the company's chief executive, faced bipartisan criticism. He was hammered on the company's digital ad business, privacy practices and policies toward working with the military.
Right off the bat, Rep. David Cicilline, the Democrat from Rhode Island who is leading the House's investigation into big tech companies, zeroed in on the search giant.
Watch this: Google's Pichai "We don't steal money from small businesses" (BUT THEY DO!)
"Why does Google steal content from honest businesses?" Cicilline asked Pichai, who appeared over a video feed from a sparse and brightly beige office. The lawmaker was referring to criticism that Google takes content from publishers and other websites, which has led to accusations it hurts competitors. The content is used in prepared answers in Google's search engine, instead of just providing a list of links.
"I disagree with that characterization," Pichai responded.
Other lawmakers dug into Google, too. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, scrutinized Google's relationship with China. When he got a second chance to ask questions, Gaetz accused Google of silencing conservative voices, a common refrain among GOP members of Congress. Rep. Greg Steube, also a Republican from Florida, brought up the theme of anti-conservative bias, too.
"There are more conservative voices than ever before" on YouTube, the massive video platform owned by Google, Pichai replied.
Pichai testified alongside Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Apple CEO Tim Cook. As the hearing got underway, lawmakers largely ignored Cook and Bezos -- the world's richest person -- though the subcommittee members turned to Bezos more frequently as the hearing went on.
Of the four companies, Google is in the most imminent danger of antitrust action. The US Department of Justice is investigating Google's massive digital advertising business, and is expected to file a lawsuit against the search giant this summer. The company is also ensnared in another probe by a coalition of state attorneys general, led by Texas AG Ken Paxton.
Lawmakers are mainly focused Google's on dominance in web search, digital advertising and smartphone software. The company processes around 90% of all online searches in the US. That stranglehold on the market is the foundation of Google's massive advertising business, which generates almost all of the company's $160 billion in annual sales. Critics accuse Google of anticompetitive behavior with its ad business because the company owns all sides of the auction system, which could give Google an unfair edge.
Google's Android operating system is the most popular mobile software in the world, powering almost nine out of every 10 smartphones shipped globally. The company has been accused of using that dominance to force partners to bundle Google's apps, like search and Maps, into their offerings.
The hearing is Pichai's second visit to Capitol Hill for a congressional grilling. He faced the House Judiciary committee in December 2018, fielding questions about Google's data collection practices, relationship with China and alleged anti-conservative bias.
The testimony came after Pichai was a no show to a another hearing earlier that year, when Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey faced the Senate. Pichai and Google co-founder Larry Page had been invited, and when they declined, an empty chair and a nameplate that said "GOOGLE" appeared next to the leaders of the other two companies.