Big tech executives will likely deploy a mix of denials, deflections and defiance during Wednesday’s congressional hearings as they defend themselves from lawmakers who believe they are skirting antitrust rules, according to a lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai and his fellow tech executives will level 10 distinct defensive strategies, lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas noted in a memo Tuesday. Lawmakers on a House Judiciary subcommitee will also deploy their own “lines of attack,” the memo says, as they prepare to question Pichai alongside CEOs Tim Cook of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.
“It’s a significant milestone in a long journey, but it’s unlikely to prove the profound inflection point when everything changed,” Bruce Mehlman, founder of Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas, said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation, referring to the significance of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law’s hearing.
The tech executives will deny they are responsible for monopolizing Silicon Valley, according to Mehlman’s group.
“We are not monopolies. Our services are *free* to consumers. Anyone can launch their own search engine / smart phone / e-commerce platform / social network,” the memo, regarding potential answers from the tech companies, reads. (RELATED: READ: Transcript Of Zuckerberg’s Prepared Opening Remarks Ahead Of House’s Antitrust Hearing)
Google consistently accounts for roughly 90% of online information searches, Vox, citing Google Trends, reported in May. A DCNF report in 2018 showed the company’s employees have expressed willingness to artificially manipulate search results on the platform.
House lawmakers have gathered 1.3 million documents, conducted interviews and held five other hearings featuring tech executives, The Washington Post reported Monday. Democrats plan to produce a report some party leaders think will show Silicon Valley sidestepped federal competition laws, according to WaPo.
Evidence shows tech executives developed a “copy-acquire-kill” strategy to crush their competitors, Rep. Pramila Jayapal told The Washington Post Monday. The committee has seen “very specific language from top-level executives about that,” the Washington Democrat added without providing more details about the alleged strategy.
Tech executives will also be defiant as lawmakers bombard them with questions, Mehlman’s group argues.
“Our market shares are fairly-won and forever at-risk. Consumers opt-in to use our goods & services and are free to quit any time. Platforms don’t post bad content, users do,” the memo, again predicting tech executives responses, noted.
Bezos, Zuckerberg, Cook, and Pichai will also deflect and claim the “real problem” is China or a tech company like Microsoft, Mehlman’s group noted. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is not one of the executives slated to appear before the committee Wednesday.
Mehlman also highlighted potential ways lawmakers would attack the executives.
“Republicans allege ‘woke’ liberals at Google, Facebook & Twitter are biased in limiting speech of conservatives online,” his group notes, for example. Democrats, meanwhile, will “allege tech leaders at Facebook & Google put profit ahead of consumers, allowing bad actors & foreign nations to bully, inflame controversies & influence elections.”
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