Tech Executives Arrive on Capitol Hill for Hearings on User Privacy

Tags: Currents Facebook, Media, National News, Washington, Washington D.C.

Currents News Staff

Executives from the biggest names in tech and e-commerce were grilled on Capitol Hill on July 16 as lawmakers questioned their growing influence and considered steps to limit their expanding power. 

Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google executives all took the hot seat at hearings, where the focus of the questioning, was user privacy. 

“Facebook has two competing missions: make the world more open and connected. As Facebook attempts to serve both these missions, they wreak havoc on the rest of us,” explained Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat. 

In focus at one hearing was Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency, Libra, where the company promised to do their homework.

“Let me be clear and unambiguous: Facebook will not offer the Libra digital currency until we have fully addressed regulators concerned and received appropriate approvals,” said David A. Marcus, Facebook’s digital currency head. 

But after Facebook’s past privacy missteps, some senators were skeptical of the endeavor.

“It’s one after another after another after another, so I don’t trust you guys,” said Arizona Republican Senator Martha McSally. 

Despite establishing Libra as a separate entity, there were questions about whether information about transactions could be shared with Facebook and monetized.

“I can’t think of any reason right now for us to do this,” Marcus said in response. 

At another hearing, the major questions surrounded whether Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple are allowing consumers enough options, or stifling the competition.

“The internet has become increasingly concentrated, less open, and growingly hostile to innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Democratic House Judiciary Committee Representative David Cicilline. 

The topic of big tech has become an issue in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary Race. Some, like Elizabeth Warren, are calling for breakups. Others are calling for more regulation to rein them in.