Sequence thorny for the giants of the Web. Wednesday, 29 July, elected officials in the us were given free rein, for 5 hours, to years of frustration vis-à-vis the corporate tentacles that dominate the global Internet. Sundar Pichai (Alphabet, parent company Google), Tim Cook (Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) have been interviewed by video conference by the judicial commission of the House of representatives in Washington, who survey the past year about the possible abuse of a dominant position. "They have too much power ", has assené from the outset, David Cicilline, the chairman of the sub-committee on competition. And " they will definitely emerge [from the pandemic] an even stronger and more powerful than before ". "If the Congress does not force the Big Tech to be fair, what they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with decrees ", was threatened by Donald Trump prior to the start of the session.
The democrat members focused primarily on the economic model of the giants of the tech. They tried to prove that these groups use the mountains of personal data at their disposal and the acquisitions of competitors to prevent, illegally, any competitor to emerge, to the detriment of consumers, of citizens, innovation and democracy. "Google has become the portal of access to the Internet and the abuse of power," argued David Cicilline after a series of questions to Sundar Pichai. "It has become a fenced in garden, [...] which provides, virtually, that any company that wants to be found online must pay a fee to Google.
open data to all
Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the commission, has, for its part, attacked Mark Zuckerberg on the ground of acquisitions. "Facebook saw Instagram as a threat [...], therefore, [ ... ] they have redeemed them ", he accused. Jeff Bezos, for whom this was the first appearance before a parliamentary committee, has also taken to his rank. "Amazon is only interested in the exploitation of its monopoly on online sales," said David Cicilline. "His dual role of host and marchand on the same platform is fundamentally anti-competitive. The Congress must take action. "
Read also Instagram : short videos but with big ambitions in the face of TikTok
To support this, the elected Pramila Jayapal has quoted a former employee of Amazon : "[The chiefs] we just say : "Do not use in the data." But it is a real candy store, everyone has access to everything he wants. "Tim Cook has been interviewed on the same topic – his quality of judge and party, on its platform of applications, the App Store, but there has been relatively spared compared to the other groups.
interference in the american presidential campaign ?
Read also Case Apple : why the Commission has been subject to cancellation
He has also accused Google of being an ally of China (the search engine is not accessible since 20 years) and had tried to promise the patron of the group that his services "would not be custom-fitted to help Joe Biden [the democratic candidate] to win in 2020" the presidential election. On competition, several of the republican members of the commission consider to be "great" is not a tare, and can even serve to " do good ".
Combined, the Gafa are worth around 4 780 billion dollars in the Stock market. Billionaires Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg are in the top 5 of the richest men in the world. Their bosses have had few opportunities to respond to the accusations, apart from during their opening remarks, where they bragged about their "success stories" to the u.s. to appeal to the fibre patriotic elected officials. They have put forward their contribution to growth, investment, job creation in the United States, and provided encouraging competition while facing fierce competition.
also Read Phoebe – What there is of human in algorithms
Not enough to convince David Cicilline : "These companies have a monopoly. Some need to be split up, others need to be regulated and made responsible for their actions, " he concluded. The judicial commission investigation for months about the possible abuse of a dominant position, but the hearing is unlikely to have major consequences, if it is not, perhaps, to prepare new and stronger laws for the digital platforms.