WASHINGTON — The CEOs of four of the world’s biggest tech companies appeared before Congress on Wednesday to defend their companies’ growing power.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai of Alphabet, which owns Google and YouTube, testified as part of an ongoing investigation by the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee into whether the tech companies used their control of the market to unfairly edge out competitors.
The hearing had a fittingly dystopian vibe, as more than a dozen masked lawmakers faced down the four tech titans, whose faces were projected onto large television screens affixed to the walls of the hearing room.
One at a time, each member removed their mask to grill Zuckerberg, Pichai, Cook, and Bezos on a host of subjects, from anticompetitive practices to user safety to their purchase of smaller companies in possible attempts to steamroll competition.
As expected, a handful of lawmakers deviated from the subject of antitrust to pepper the CEOs with questions about the role of China and allegations that their platforms were biased against conservatives. The few flareups came from exchanges like these; in one instance, Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, continued to shout over the next questioner, his colleague, Rep. Jamie Raskin, demanded, “put your mask on.”
Congress, which has developed a reputation for technological ineptitude, pulled off the hearing mostly without a hitch. Most of the glitches appeared to come from Bezos’ end; a connectivity issue forced a brief recess, and at one point, the Amazon CEOs microphone remained on mute as he attempted to answer a question.
For the most part, members stuck to their allotted time and the subject at hand, though the hearing still stretched for nearly six hours, after starting an hour late.
The liveblog is now over. You can watch video of the hearing here, and read the recap below. All times noted are EDT on Wednesday, July 29.