House lawmakers on Wednesday grilled the heads of some of the world’s largest tech companies – with Democrats questioning whether the companies violated U.S. antitrust laws and stole from competitors, while Republicans slammed them over alleged censorship and bias against conservatives.
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., says despite the big tech CEOs claiming they don’t censor conservative voices online, he continues to see liberal viewpoints promoted on their sites and he believes that impacts elections.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai of Google and Apple’s Tim Cook testified before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, each telling tales they face competition not only from one another, but other large companies inside and outside the country as well.
In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I, said the committee had spoken to more than 100 sources with 100s of hours talking to them about the behaviors of the marketplace, noting it’s “the most bipartisan issue” in some time on Capitol Hill.
“Our founders did not bow before a king and we should now bow before the emperors of the online economy,” Cicilline said.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, came out swinging, noting “big tech is out to get conservatives.” Jordan cited several examples of alleged bias against Facebook, Google and Amazon, as well as Twitter, which was not involved in the hearing.
WATCH JIM JORDAN RIP INTO THEM …
Rep. Cicilline peppered Pichai with questions that Google was “stealing” information from other tech companies, including restaurant reviews from Yelp, or using its data in a nefarious way to spy on its competitors. Google’s CEO denied the accusations, noting it, like other companies, works to provide the best experience for its customers.
Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., asked Zuckerberg about censoring ideas, specifically from conservative viewpoints, including mentioning Donald Trump Jr.’s temporary ban on Twitter (which did not involve Facebook) for posting a video that claimed antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine is a cure for COVID-19, a virus for which there is no known cure.
Later in the hearing, Jordan pressed Google’s Pichai to promise that the company would not censor conservative voices on its search engine and would refrain from helping the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden win November’s election. Jordan claimed Google employees worked to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 when she was the nominee.
“You did it in 2016,” Jordan said. “I just want to make sure you’re not going to do it in 2020.”
Pichai argued that the tech giant complied with all federal laws in 2016 and will continue to do so. “We engage with campaigns according to law and approach our work in a nonpartisan way,” he said. “Any work we do around the elections is nonpartisan.” He added: “You have my commitment.”