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Tech titans had their day before Congress. Now what?

July 31, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks via video conference during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on antitrust on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Washington. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)

For nearly six hours on Wednesday, House lawmakers peppered the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google with questions about their business practices, in the most anticipated antitrust hearing of its kind since Bill Gates defended Microsoft before Congress in 1998.

(CNN Business)For nearly six hours on Wednesday, House lawmakers peppered the CEOs of Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL) with questions about their business practices, in the most anticipated antitrust hearing of its kind since Bill Gates defended Microsoft before Congress in 1998.

Indeed, after the hearing ended, Rep. David Cicilline, who leads the subcommittee that questioned the CEOs, said there might be a need for some breakups, though Congress itself does not have the power to do so.

Looking past the drama of the hearing, analysts say, the likeliest areas of concern include Facebook's acquisition strategy, Google's decisions surrounding search and data, and Amazon's use of data from third-party sellers to benefit its own business.

Facebook's acquisition strategy was a central theme of the hearing that will likely raise more questions by investigators or perhaps even bolster a case for breaking up its business, analysts said.

During the hearing, lawmakers introduced emails into the record that show CEO Mark Zuckerberg was concerned in 2012 about Instagram's potential to threaten Facebook.

For Google, the only one of the four companies that's faced an antitrust suit by federal authorities, the biggest anti-competitive issues raised at the hearing were its handling of user data and its treatment of rival search results, analysts said.

Under questioning, Pichai also acknowledged that he signed off "at a high level" on the decision in 2016 to combine the user data from its own services with the web browsing data held by DoubleClick, an ad tech company Google acquired in 2007 — creating what one lawmaker called an "absolutely staggering" data trove on users.

Lawmakers were especially concerned about the possibility that an Amazon lawyer may have lied to Congress in a prior hearing when testifying that the company does not use the data for this purpose.

Amazon's policy is to allow employees to use "aggregate" seller data to help its own business, Bezos said.

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