Lawmakers Demand Records from Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple

Lawmakers Demand Records from Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple

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A U.S. House panel conducting antitrust investigation of the technology sector is demanding that companies turn over a trove of internal records, according to Bloomberg.

Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline, who is leading the House antitrust subcommittee’s inquiry into large internet companies, said it is sending letters to Google parent Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook and Apple asking for detailed information about acquisitions, business practices, executive communications, previous probes and lawsuits. The letters mark the most aggressive demands by the House panel since June, when it began a bipartisan investigation into whether large tech platforms are harming competition.

The panel asked Facebook about its purchases of the WhatsApp and Instagram, which were both approved by federal antitrust regulators. They asked to see communications from CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg, former general counsel Colin Stretch and policy chief Kevin Martin.

The committee wants to know whether Google is shutting out rivals on its platforms or imposing restrictions that could harm competition. It asked for discussions by executives about whether non-Google companies with competing ad technology can participate in Google ad auctions or place ads on YouTube. The lawmakers also asked for discussions about any agreements between Android and smartphone manufacturers that give Google exclusive rights to collect data from devices.

The lawmakers asked about 24 Google products and services, including its mobile operating system Android, Gmail, the Google Play store, YouTube and its mapping service Waze. The letter seeks information on executives’ discussions of major acquisitions including ad technology company DoubleClick, YouTube and Android.

The panel asked for details about 12 of Apple’s products and services, including its App Store, Apple Watch, iPhone, Mac and Siri. It wants to see communications to and from Apple CEO Tim Cook and 13 other executives about policies and decisions involving the company’s App Store, such as the algorithm that determines the search ranking of apps and whether to allow other app stores on the iPhone. They also requested records about Apple’s offer to replace ailing iPhone batteries.

The lawmakers’ request to Amazon focuses on the company’s online marketplace, including how it handles proprietary data of third-party sellers on its platform and how its product search algorithm works. They demand answers about Amazon’s 2018 deal to sell new Apple devices on its website, which has also attracted questions from the Federal Trade Commission. The lawmakers seek information about acquisitions by Amazon.

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