Congress will begin its scrutiny of America’s tech giants on Tuesday amid growing discomfort in Washington over the power that the companies wield over the industry and public life.
The House Judiciary Committee will hold its inaugural hearing Tuesday afternoon on anti-competitive practices among internet businesses, the first step in a broader investigation into dominance in digital markets. The committee has already put Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple on alert, and members made clear that the tech titans will go under the microscope.
“It’s past time for this historic, bipartisan investigation to ensure healthy competition in our digital markets,” tweeted Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who sits on the antitrust subcommittee. “From antitrust’s roots in big oil to today’s big tech, it’s our job to look out for consumers, small businesses and innovators.”
The investigation represents the first congressional probe into allegations that the companies are engaged in anti-competitive behavior, and it enjoys strong backing from Democratic leadership. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared last week that “the era of self-regulation is over.” Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., tweeted — in all caps — “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”
Republicans have also criticized the size and reach of the big tech companies, and the committee’s probe is starting on common ground. Tuesday’s hearing is focused on the ways platforms such as Facebook and Google have changed the landscape for the news media. Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the committee’s ranking member, and Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who leads the antitrust subcommittee, have co-sponsored legislation that would allow local news organizations to band together to negotiate with the dominant platforms over access and quality.