US Congress grilling, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Alphabet's Sundar Pichai and Apple's Tim Cook interview

US Congress grilling, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Alphabet's Sundar Pichai and Apple's Tim Cook interview

The United States Congress grilling comprising of top four technology gaints were interviewed; Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Alphabet's Sundar Pichai and Apple's Tim Cook are all taking part
The United States Congress grilling comprising of top four technology gaints were interviewed; Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Alphabet's Sundar Pichai and Apple's Tim Cook are all taking part

The interviews were as follows;

Does more data mean more money?
In a testy exchange, the Democratic member Val Butler Demings asked Sundar Pichai whether it was true that "the more user data that Google collects, the more money Google can make".
"That's not true," he replied.

"Most of the data today we collect is to help users and provide personalised experiences." But before he could flesh out this response - or be challenged over it - the session ended to make way for the next set of questions.

'We'll assume they are good questions'
A gentle reminder from the committee chair to the tech bosses that time is short, with each committee member just getting five minutes each. All four have often begun their answers by thanking the committee for the question."We appreciate the gratitude for the questions, and your description of them as good questions, but we'll just assume that they are good questions and that you are happy to answer them."

Bezos Dodges a yes or no question
Amazon's Jeff Bezos has finally been asked a question, so it looks like his feed is working - though the picture is a bit fuzzy. Democratic congresswoman Pramila Jayapal asked him for a "yes or no" answer to whether his firm had ever used seller data to make business decisions.
This was a reference to reports that Amazon had used data gathered from businesses selling products via its site to design and price its own rival first-party goods - something the firm has previously suggested had been limited to a group of rogue employees.Mr Bezos responded that he couldn't give in answer in such simple terms.


"What I can tell you is we have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private label business, but I can't guarantee you that that policy has never been violated," he said. Ms Jayapal said she remained concerned that Amazon was continuously monitoring its logs to prevent any other business from becoming big enough that it would pose a competitive risk.

We're Back, With More Questions For Sundar Pichai
The hearing is back in business and with questions for Alphabet's Sundar Pichai on General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Republican Kelly Armstrong makes the case that the privacy law has helped entrench Google's market-leading position rather than weaken it.


Mr Pichai responded: "We see robust competition in the marketplace [and] we have to comply with regulation."

Technical hiccup halts the hearing

The hearing has had to pause because of a technical problem with one of the feeds - presumably that of Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who hasn't spoken in a while. So far there's been lots of accusations thrown the tech CEOs way, but little if any damage done.
A consequence, perhaps, of switching topic and leader after relatively brief sessions, helping the well-prepared business chiefs swat away the claims of wrongdoing lobbed their way.

Google accused of collaboration with China
Republican congressman Matt Gaetz claimed that Google collaborates with Chinese universities that take "millions upon millions of dollars from the Chinese military" and noted that tech investor Peter Thiel had previously accused the company of "treason".


Sundar Pichai - chief executive of parent company Alphabet - denied that his employees were acting against American interests. "We are not working with the Chinese military it's absolutely false," he said.


"What we do in China, compared to our peers, it's very very limited in nature. "Our AI work in China is limited to a handful of people working on open source projects."

No questions for yet Jeff Bezos
We are an hour and a half in to the hearing and yet to hear from Amazon's Jeff Bezos, apart from his opening remarks. Most of the questions have been for Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet's Sundar Pichai.

Tim Cook challenged over App Store rules
The Democrat congressman Henry Johnson raised concerns about Apple's App Store, suggesting its moderators made up rules "as they go" and then arbitrarily interpreted them. He added that it appeared that the rules were sometimes "changed to benefit Apple at the expense of [third-party] developers" and also discriminated between different creators.


"Sir, we treat every developer the same," Mr Cook responded."We have open and transparent rules... we do look at every app before it goes on. But those apps, those rules apply evenly to everyone."

Mr Johnson went on to suggest there was nothing to stop Apple raising its cut of app sales from the existing level of 30% to 50%.


Mr Cook replied that he strongly disagreed with this.
"There is a competition for developers," the Apple chief said, saying software creators could switch their efforts to Android, Windows, Xbox or PlayStation.

Zuckerberg responds to case of mistaken identity
Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner asked Mark Zuckerberg why a post by the US president's son, Donald Trump Jr, had been taken down because it discussed the efficacy of the drug hydroxychloroquine.


Mr Zuckerberg noted that happened on a rival social network , but answered the point."I think what you might be referring to happened on on Twitter, so it's hard for me to speak to that. But I can talk to our policies."We do prohibit content that will lead to imminent risk of harm.


"We do not want to become the arbiters of truth... [but] if someone is going to go out and say that hydroxychloroquine is proven to cure Covid, when in fact it has not been proven to cure Covid, and that statement could lead people to to take a drug that that in some cases, some of the data suggests that it might be harmful to people - we think that we should take that down."

Bezos just got richer
During the hour's delay before the hearing got underway, Amazon's share price rose by about 0.5%. I'm not sure how much richer that makes Jeff Bezos, but it is probably more than $500m.

Google accused of conflict of interest
Committee chair David Cicilline began the cross-examination of Google's Sundar Pichai by accusing the company of having a "conflict of interest" between serving the public information and its own business model, which sells ads and seeks to keep users on its own sites.Mr Pichai responded that Google needed its users to trust it to keep them coming back, and added that for the vast majority of search queries it didn't show any ads at all.

'No guarantee that our values will win out' - Zuckerberg
In his opening remarks, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, included an apparent warning that if the US tech model doesn't win out, another will. "Facebook stands for a set of basic principles, giving people voice and economic opportunity, keeping people safe upholding democratic traditions like freedom of expression and voting and enabling an open and competitive marketplace.


"These are fundamental values for most of us, but not for everyone in the world, not for every company we compete with or the countries they represent."And as global competition increases. There is no guarantee that our values will win out."

Apple boss defends firm's commission on apps
Apple's chief executive Tim Cook has given his prepared statement to the Judiciary Committee. The company is expecting to face criticism of the 30% cut it takes from software sold via its App Store, particularly since it won't let commercial apps be installed natively by other means on iPhones and iPads.
"For the vast majority of apps on the App Store, developers keep 100% of the money they make," Mr Cook said. "The only apps that are subject to a commission are those where the developer acquires a customer on an Apple device and where the features or services would be experienced and consumed on an Apple device. "In the App Store's more than 10 year history, we have never raised the commission or added a single fee. In fact, we've reduced it for subscriptions and exempted additional categories of apps."

Pichai highlights Alphabet's record on innovation
In his opening remarks Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichair argued the company's innovation brought widespread benefits. "Using Android thousands of mobile operators build and sell their own devices without paying any licensing fees to us," he said. "This has enabled billions of consumers to afford cutting-edge smartphones, some for less than $50."

Bezos gives his opening remarks
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has given his prepared opening remarks. He discussed the company's founding and says that the US business climate made his success possible.

"The trust customers put in us every day has allowed Amazon to create more jobs in the United States over the past decade, than any other company," he said."Hundreds of thousands of jobs. "Amazon employees make a minimum of $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum wage. And we offer the best benefits.

"Here in the US, we nurture entrepreneurs and start-ups, with stable rule of law, the finest university system in the world, the freedom of democracy and a deeply accepted culture of risk taking."

Tech leaders swear in
The four tech chief executives are all giving testimony by remote video links. They all swore in over the feeds ahead of Amazon's Jeff Bezos giving the first opening statement.

Big tech is 'out to get' conservatives, Republican says
Republican Jim Jordan makes his feelings very clear in his opening statement. "Big tech is out to get conservatives," he said. "That's a fact." He then gave a long list of what he said were examples of tech firms targeting conservative platforms and voices.

"We all think the free market's great. We think competition's great. We love the fact these are American companies. But what's not great is censoring people."

Tech is 'the public square of today'
Jim Sensenbrenner, the most senior Republican member of the committee has said he is concerned that the tech companies are politically biased. "Companies like Facebook, Google's YouTube and Twitter have become the public square of today, where political debate unfolds," he said. "But reports that dissenting views - often conservative views - are targeted or censored is seriously troubling.

"Conservatives are consumers too, and they need the protection of the antitrust laws.

"The power to influence debate carries with it remarkable responsibilities...
"Your companies are large, that's not a problem. Your companies are successful. That's not a problem either.

"But I want to leave here today with a more complete picture of how your individual companies use your size success and power, and what it means to the American consumer." Other Republican members of the committee have made similar claims of bias.

Tech gatekeepers have the 'power of a private government' Committee chair David Cicilline used his opening address to attack the power of big tech. "When the American people confronted monopolist in the past, via the railroads or the oil tycoons, or AT&T and Microsoft, we took action to ensure no private corporation controls our economy, or our democracy," he said."We face similar challenges today.


"As gatekeepers of the digital economy these platforms enjoy the power to pick winners and losers to shake down small businesses and enrich themselves while choking off competitors. "Their ability to dictate terms, call the shots, up-end entire sectors and inspire fear represent the powers of a private government. "Our founders would not bow before a king, nor should we bow before the emperors of the online economy."

Hearing begins with opening remarks
The much-anticipated hearing has begun, an hour later than scheduled. The chairman - Democratic congressman David Cicilline - is giving his opening remarks. He says "dominance" of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook will be addressed. We expect to hear from their bosses soon after.

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