Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook are too powerful and will likely emerge from the coronavirus pandemic even stronger, the head of a US congressional antitrust committee said Wednesday.
"Simply put, they have too much power," House Judiciary Antitrust subcommittee chair David Cicilline said while opening an unprecedented hearing featuring the CEOs of the four giants.
"Whether it's through self-preferencing, predatory pricing, or requiring users to buy additional products, the dominant platforms have wielded their power in destructive, harmful ways in order to expand," the Democrat from Rhode Island said.
Google and Facebook took particularly sharp jabs for alleged abuse of their market power from Democrats and Republicans on Wednesday in a much-anticipated congressional hearing that put four of America's most prominent tech CEOs in the hot seat.
The chairman of the US House of Representatives antitrust panel holding the hearing said afterwards that the four CEOs had acknowledged concerning behavior.
"What we heard from witnesses at the hearing confirmed the evidence that we have collected over the last year," Cicilline, a Democrat, told Reuters.
Facebook Inc's Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon.com Inc's Jeff Bezos, Google owner Alphabet Inc's Sundar Pichai and Apple Inc's Tim Cook - whose companies have a combined market value of about $5 trillion - parried a range of accusations that they crippled smaller rivals in their quest for market share.
The videoconference hearing was the first time the four CEOs have appeared together before lawmakers.
Though it was Bezos' first congressional testimony, he appeared the least fazed. Cook drew fewer barbed questions than Bezos and handled them efficiently. Zuckerberg suffered the most damage, stumbling at times when confronted with internal emails.
Pichai, CEO of both Alphabet and Google, took the most heat from conservatives on the panel and looked the worse for it, as he repeatedly told lawmakers he would be happy to look into various situations and get back to them.
A detailed report with antitrust allegations against the four tech platforms and recommendations on how to tame their market power could be released by late summer or early fall by the committee, senior committee aides said.