by Brandon Butler
Big Tech Hearing Overview 7/30/2020

Robin Givhan for The Washington Post has a good high level overview of the questions the Democrats and Republics asked the big tech CEOs during yesterday’s hearing:

But, mostly, the Democrats focused on big questions about the power these companies have amassed, even if they really weren’t all that interested in hearing the executives’ answers. The Republicans were far more concerned about Google and how it’s unfair to conservatives. Google suppresses conservative voices. Google sends Republicans’ fundraising emails to spam. Google is anti-American.

And then there’s this colorful bit describing questioning from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio):

Wednesday afternoon, he was yelling about whether Google’s Pichai would promise that the search engine would not do anything to support Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. Pichai looked perplexed. Jordan wanted him to affirm that Google wouldn’t help former vice president Biden. Pichai tried to explain that the search engine is nonpartisan. Jordan badgered. Finally, Pichai said Google wouldn’t support either candidate. Jordan didn’t seem particularly satisfied, but his time was up, and the baton was handed to Scanlon, who announced that she’d be getting back to questions about antitrust issues and leave the conspiracy theories behind.

And then Jordan had a fit because conservatives have feelings, too. So he started yelling again. And he was told to put on his mask. And, well, oh, boy, it was as childish as it all sounds, and one couldn’t help but wonder whether some of our representatives are drinking the hand sanitizer instead of using it for good hygiene.

It was both amusing and painful to watch at times, like when Zuckerberg was being asked if Facebook uses cookies — of course it does, but the Congresswoman asking had it in her mind that the use of cookies can only be for nefarious purposes and wasn’t interested in Zuckerberg’s explanations.

I also recommend Kyle Daly and Ashley Gold’s reporting for Axios, where they’ve broken down the questions by CEO.

It’s easy to watch the hearing and feel bad for the CEOs — they’re asked multilayered questions that take three minutes to ask and are given ten seconds to answer, and are often cut off quickly. Even the prepared closing remarks said (I’m paraphrasing here) that the hearing has clearly established the companies are too big and can’t be trusted. The subcommittee wasn’t interested in getting the facts, they were interested in airing for the public the dirty laundry of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

And that’s exactly what the purpose of the hearing was — the subcommittee had hours of damning facts, emails, and testimony against these companies. The bottom line is if Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google had not spent the last decade+ abusing their size and influence, they wouldn’t be here getting publicly attacked by the US Government.

The only question left is: what happens now?