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Tech Antitrust Congressional Hearing -- Anyone watching?


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"Pichai, you had executives in a meeting in your presence in 2016 who said they will make the Trump victory "a blip." What's up by that?

Not really a good answer (or any real answer aside from something about Google communities).

"Amazon Smile uses a group, the SPLC, that categorized Catholic groups and Ben Carson as extremists so you don't allow them to set up donations."

Bezos: "Happy to take suggestions on better sources."

"Don't use SPLC."

Edited by Stompin' Tom Connors
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Johnson (who has been asking some good q's so far): "You bought Oneivo and their surveillance tools to see data on competitors for your own good."

Zuckerberg: "This data is in aggregate."
Johnson: "Didn't Oneivo get kicked out of the Apple Store?"

Zuck: "We removed it after Apple changed their appstore policies.

Analytics teams will want to broaden the data and insight. The key here what is aggregated and not, and how that is used.

Johnson: "Did you use these signals to buy What'sApp?"
Zuck: "Was pretty clear even without these signals that What'sApp was a successful product."

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"WHY DID AMAZON THINK DR. BEN CARSON IS AN EXTREMIST????"

:rolleyes:

Raskin -- to other panelists: "The removal of Trump and Trump Jr tweets were done to avoid spread of false information is something we should all endorse, not used as an example these CEOs need to answer for. You are also talking about electioneering being enabled but are just as guilty as it yourself."

Right on brother.

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Jordan: "Is the cancel culture mob something dangerous."

Cook: "Huh?"

Jordan: "I'll just read three sentences from within a long letter from a journalist Weiss who quit her post -- "everyone lives in fear of the digital thunderdome."

Pichai: "Huh?"

Jordan: "I'm concerned that anyone gets attacked for their opinions."

Zuckerman: "Yes, free speech is important, and I worry about illiberalism pushing against free speech in this company."

Bezos: "Social Media shouldn't be a nuanced destruction machine."

Jordan: "Would be helpful if you spoke out against this."

All: Didn't we just agree that suppression of free speech can be dangerous?

Jordan: "What about Apple's ad where a woman destroyed a TV that said mob think."

Cook: "I remember that add...and?"

Jordan: "Why is Drew Brees attacked for his statements then?"

All: "Huh?"

  • Laughing 1
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Jayapal: "Google makes most of its revenue from ads. 2M websites use your exchange. What is Google's share of the ad exchange market?"
Pichai: "I don't know."
Jayapal: "Some estimate as 50%-90%. If a mom and pop wants to buy ads in Seattle Times, they need to bid through Google -- Google runs the marketplace, acts on the buy side, and on the sell side. That sounds like a conflict of interest, and there is no regulation on your "stock market" where "brokers" have no obligation to work on behalf of anything but their own interest."

Pichai: "We pay out 60% of revenue we make and we deeply care about publishers."

Jayapal: "When any company controls buy and sell side, it's dangerous, and this ad exchange does this without regulation."

Pichai: "We share the majority of revenue."

Interesting and solid q's.

Edited by Stompin' Tom Connors
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Scanlon: "Amazon announced stopping shipping of non-essential products to enable COVID. This policy seemed to designate its own products as essential while delaying others. Were Ring doorbells and Fire TV sticks deemed essentials?"

Bezos: "There was no playbook for this, demand went through the roof, and had to make rapid decision, and goal was limited to help essential goods get to people who needed them."

SCanlon: "Was profit a motive here?"

Bezos: "No, safety and getting essential items out were."

Scanlon: "5 years ago, charged 15% fee, today is 30%"

Bezos: "More sellers are taking advantage of our services that we've built over time. Sellers are choosing to use our fulfillment center instead of theirs, for examples, and using more services, like Fulfillment by Amazon."

Scanlon: "Doesn't FbA enrollment help you win the buy box?"
Bezos: "Indirectly, buy box favors products available for Prime -- buy box predicts the offer the customer may want most based on price, availability, delivery options."

Seems pretty reasonable?

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Neguse: "Why does Apple app user agreement allow Apple to use info from any apps for any purpose, but say in their requirements for the store that apps can't be copycat apps of similar existing apps. Why one rule for others and a different one for Apple?
Cook: "Not familiar with that, let me follow up."

Neguse: "We just want to ensure Apple isn't copycatting apps. Lets follow up on that."

  • Thanks 1
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McBath: "Are stolen goods sold on Amazon?"
Bezos: "Not to my knowledge, but I am sure with a million sellers it has happened, but I doubt it's a large part of what's sold."

McBath: "So you are saying no?"

Bezos: huh?

McBath: "Do you require real name and address from sellers?"


Bezos: "I believe we do. Can get back to you with confirmation."

McBath: "You do."

Me: Huh?
McBath: "Will you commit to reporting stolen goods to law enforcement?"
Bezos: "I see no reason why if we know of stolen goods, we wouldn't report it."

Cicilline: "In summary, we think these companies crush competition and need to be broken up."

Edited by Stompin' Tom Connors
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2 hours ago, FreeBaGeL said:

OK this accusation that Amazon pretends to be interested in startup companies just so they can get info to re-make the products themselves and then abruptly cuts off talks with the original company is actually pretty messed up if true.

I have read that it is very true, lots of supposedly documented cases out there but usually the smaller competitor gets ground into dust by lawyers. However its not just an Amazon tactic, almost all big tech does this. Heck, similar tactics date at least as far back as when Apple stole the mouse and GUI interface from Xerox.

Amazon also takes advantage of their 3rd party sellers, if someone has a good selling product, amazon will launch a competitor and then funnel traffic to their own product instead of the original.

Edited by Buckna
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1 hour ago, Nugget said:
1 hour ago, Stompin' Tom Connors said:

Hearing adjourned.

Thanks for bearing with me.

Thanks for the summary - appreciated.

:goodposting:

probably better synopsis than I'll read later tonight.

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1 hour ago, Buckna said:

I have read that it is very true, lots of supposedly documented cases out there but usually the smaller competitor gets ground into dust by lawyers. However its not just an Amazon tactic, almost all big tech does this. Heck, similar tactics date at least as far back as when Apple stole the mouse and GUI interface from Xerox.

Amazon also takes advantage of their 3rd party sellers, if someone has a good selling product, amazon will launch a competitor and then funnel traffic to their own product instead of the original.

I think you are right about the approach most big firms (not just in tech) take in engaging with startups, seeing value, then launching something similar. In the end, if any company was truly predatory, would hope that would be borne out in court and the company duly punished. Not sure how truly reliably that happens. And also think a lot of people either look to create these kinds of suits against big tech companies, or see similarities in their products and the ones tech companies release when there really isn't IP infringement going on. 

As to the second part about 3P, I think the exact same principle applies. I am not sure Amazon funnels traffic to just their brands as opposed to being able to look at products they can source at a cheaper cost, and people buy them because they are cheaper and can be shipped to them faster. Amazon focusing on products they can source and are popular with customers isn't exactly controversial to me.

There is also indication that for all the worry about Amazon taking business away from 3P providers with their private brands, they really aren't.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/29/2020 at 6:40 PM, Buckna said:

I have read that it is very true, lots of supposedly documented cases out there but usually the smaller competitor gets ground into dust by lawyers. However its not just an Amazon tactic, almost all big tech does this. Heck, similar tactics date at least as far back as when Apple stole the mouse and GUI interface from Xerox.

Amazon also takes advantage of their 3rd party sellers, if someone has a good selling product, amazon will launch a competitor and then funnel traffic to their own product instead of the original.

Isn’t this similar to Target or a grocery store making a store-brand pain killer or cereal because the name brand one is selling well?

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On 7/29/2020 at 5:26 PM, huthut said:

Good luck with the average age of legislators. My 4 year old is better using an ipad that my parents. Maybe in 20-30 years it will be more dominated by people who are more knowledgeable about technology. 

I doubt it. Don’t confuse use with knowledge. The amount of stupid things younger folks do with technology is a little scary. Technology and how it’s changed the world happened so fast that we lost the window of opportunity to properly assess and educate on the ramifications and dangers.
 

Young people put EVERYTHING online and don’t really care about privacy at all (yes, this is a generalization). To expect them to later make good policy when they’ve grown up already accepting giving big companies tons of data on themselves as normal is expecting something unrealistic.

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