Tomorrow, the chief executives of America’s largest technology companies will take to Capitol Hill for a hearing on online platforms and market power. More specifically, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law will examine the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.
For tech policy nerds, Wednesday’s hearing is the Super Bowl of hearings. But it could have big implications for the average consumer, too.
Retailers have long waved a red flag about big tech platforms’ practices and their harmful impact on businesses and consumers. In particular, the failure of big tech online marketplaces like Amazon to collect and verify the information of third-party sellers. By refusing to do this, they can and do serve as safe havens for bad actors looking to traffic stolen and counterfeit goods. This lack of accountability for products sold erodes consumer trust and forces retailers to price match against products stolen from their own shelves. Unfortunately, the failure to take responsibility by big tech marketplaces has emboldened organized retail crime rings leading to their growth and encouraging more brazen acts that endanger customers and retail workers. We expect this to be a topic of inquiry among Subcommittee members and we are curious to see if Mr. Bezos will step up and support reasonable consumer protection measures or continue to support anticompetitive business practices.
Last week, Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced the INFORM Consumers Act which will require big tech marketplaces to collect and verify business information on its high-volume third-party sellers. We issued a statement of support for this legislation, noting that, “big tech marketplace platforms have their place in an increasingly diverse and digital economy, connecting legitimate sellers—often small businesses—to a large and growing pool of online shoppers. But their growth cannot be a golden ticket for criminal rings targeting legitimate businesses and innocent consumers.”
In addition, we expect the hearing to focus on how the platforms use their power to stifle competition through data, acquisition and search dominance undermining the competitive market and harming American consumers. We are encouraged by the bipartisan scrutiny being leveled at big tech platforms who have tilted the competitive playing field and undermined fair competition. We will continue to work to ensure this hearing marks a significant beginning to enacting accountability and transparency to open up competition to the marketplace.
- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
- Apple CEO Tim Cook
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
- Google CEO Sundar Pichai
- What: “Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 6: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google
- When: Wednesday, July 29 at 12:00pm ET
- Where: Watch live here
Technology & Innovation