Expect lawmakers to pepper the companies with highly specific questions about their businesses based on documents and other evidence gathered throughout the 13-month probe. Among other things, Amazon is under scrutiny for its use of seller data; Apple, over its app store policies; Facebook, for its acquisition strategy and its dominance in online advertising; and Google, for its own practices in search and advertising. For their part, the companies are expected to argue that they have helped countless entrepreneurs and small businesses, and have made America a leader in innovation amid rising competition from China.
The tech companies are expected to play up the benefits they’ve provided to American businesses and consumers, and point to the competitive threat posed by China. A copy of Zuckerberg’s testimony obtained by CNN shows the Facebook founder will argue that unlike China and its vision for the internet, which is “focused on very different ideas,” Facebook arrived at its success “the American way: we started with nothing and provided better products that people find valuable.”
Each of the testifying executives will come bearing different experiences with lawmakers. Apple’s Tim Cook testified in 2013, before the backlash against tech really took hold, and largely came away unscathed — discussing the finer points of global tax policy with lawmakers. Alphabet’s now-CEO, Sundar Pichai, proved cool under pressure in a hearing covering Google’s data practices and claims of political bias held by the House Judiciary Committee in late 2018. And Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was grilled for 10 hours by the House and Senate about the company’s track record on privacy.
As for Congress, the hearing will likely lead to a report by the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, followed by possible legislation to rein in the tech industry or to revise the nation’s competition laws.