More than 60 groups sent two letters asking the House Judiciary Committee to “compel the testimony of the chief executives and any other relevant leaders of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google” about big tech companies’ possible violations of antitrust laws. The letters come more than a year after the House Judiciary Committee first announced an investigation in big tech companies’ actions.
“After a year of work on your bipartisan investigation, and with only six months remaining in the current legislative session, now is the time to act to ensure that the investigation can be brought to a successful conclusion and that any subsequent report can be written with full consideration given to all relevant materials,” stated one of the letters.
In the letters, “unions, advocacy groups and small-business alliances,” urge lawmakers to “use all necessary tools – including subpoenas if necessary – to compel the production of vital information from these large and important institutions” about their actions.
“These corporations wield extraordinary power over our communities, commerce, and communications — power that will only continue to increase through the pandemic,” read one of the letters.
According to Protocol, Facebook, Google, and Amazon have informally agreed to let their CEOs testify under certain conditions, but “Apple has not yet confirmed that it is willing to offer testimony from Cook” due to the fact that the company “does not rely on user data to make money.” Apple is involved in two other antitrust investigations in the European Union.
Dave Segal, the executive director of Demand Progress, one of the organizations that contributed to the letters, says Congress will have to act to proceed in the investigation.
“As far as I’m concerned, as far as our coalition is concerned, these companies have not by any stretch actually agreed to testify voluntarily,” Segal said. “There’s a real tension between getting full compliance from the companies and being able to move forward expeditiously with the end of the investigation.”
Despite ongoing investigations by the House Judiciary Committee about “monopoly concerns” and censorship in big tech for more than a year, the organizations that sent the letters say Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook should be legally held accountable.
“Your investigations into the technology sector are part of this tradition, and we applaud the work that you have done so far and the bipartisan manner in which you have done it,” stated the letter penned by Sarah Miller, the executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, and Mike Davis, the president of the Internet Accountability Project. “The successful completion of this work, through obtaining all necessary documents and testimony, is critical.”