As they seek evidence of anticompetitive behavior, House lawmakers are asking for executive communications and emails from four technology companies. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg; Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos; Google’s early leaders Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt; and Apple CEO Tim Cook were among those reportedly named in the requests, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler, House Judiciary Committee chairman, said the requests will help with an ongoing investigation, noting “growing evidence that a handful of corporations have come to capture an outsized share of online commerce and communications.”
From both parties, House Judiciary Committee leaders asked Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Alphabet to provide many documents ranging from financial statements to executive communications in addition to information about market share, mergers, competitors and critical business decisions.
The documents that are released could function as justification to bring in top executives to high-profile hearings and could become public. That could bring about political pressure for a regulatory crackdown and pose risks to the reputations of technology companies.
The request to Alphabet, for instance, spotlights 24 services and products ranging from YouTube to advertising technology and Waze. It reportedly asks for executive communications in relating acquisitions and the way that other businesses interface with Google’s own services.
In another case, Facebook received questions regarding executive discussions surrounding the acquisitions of Instagram, Onavo and WhatsApp in addition to decisions involving third-party apps work on its social media platform.
In separate news, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is in the process of defining how U.S. antitrust laws apply to big tech so it can better police anti-competitive behavior. The commission wants to uncover any limitations or regulatory gaps in the law that might hamper its ability to govern technology companies.
Bilal Sayyed, director of the FTC’s office of policy planning, said in a speech at Georgetown University Law Center that “the executive and legislative branch may find this document helpful as each considers whether new laws or new regulations” are needed.