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CROSS-EXAMINATION

Five actually smart questions from big tech’s antitrust hearing

Graeme Jennings/Pool via REUTERS
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks via video conference during a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law.

In a hearing before the US House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee today, the CEOs of Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google fielded questions about anti-competitive practices at their companies. For close to six hours, Congressional representatives pelted Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Sundar Pichai with queries on everything from data privacy to online ad exchanges.

Even for the most sophisticated group of askers, this would be a lot of ground to cover: The four tech companies have different business models, and different practices inviting the scrutiny of Congress. Past hearings—in particular Zuckerberg’s 2018 appearance before Congress—didn’t inspire much confidence when it comes to politicians’ grasp of the businesses they’re interrogating.

Wednesday, too, had some doozies, like when Rep. Greg Steube asked Pichai why his campaign emails were hitting his constituents’ (and dad’s) spam folders. But on the whole, the hearing was a pleasant surprise: Many of the questions were nuanced and thoughtful. Here are five of the most pointed questions posed to the world’s most powerful CEOs:

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