Big Tech CEO's Email Requests in US Probe – Strategy

A U.S. Board of Representatives on Friday demanded internal emails, detailed financial information and other corporate records from top executives in Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google, and expanded Big Tech's antitrust probe.

The letters are searching for October 14 internal emails over the past decade from Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet CEO Larry Page, for other acquisitions.

Apple shares fell about 1.8 percent after the market opened. While Apple had been cited as a potential target, the House letter offered the first concrete evidence of a comprehensive antitrust investigation.

Apple has faced criticism that App Store's policies and algorithms support its own products and stifle third-party applications.

On Monday, the Texas Attorney General led a group of 50 attorneys general from US states and territories in a probe of Google abusing its market power in advertising.

"There is growing evidence that a handful of companies have come to capture a large share of online commerce and communication," said House Judiciary Committee leader Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, who signed the letters with ranking Republican Representative Doug Collins and Representative David Cicilline, who heads the antitrust subcommittee and ranking of Republican Jim Sensenbrenner.

"This information is the key to determining whether anti-competitive behavior occurs, whether our antitrust enforcement agencies should investigate specific issues and whether our antitrust laws need improvement to better promote competition in the digital markets," Collins said in a statement.

Lawmakers seek email from top executives on topics including procurement such as Amazon's purchase of AbeBooks, PillPack, Eero, Ring, Zappos and Whole Foods; and Google's acquisition of AdMob, YouTube, Android and DoubleClick.

They are also seeking information on various policies, including Google's decision to automatically sign in to Chrome for any user to sign in to Google services.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Amazon and Facebook declined to comment. Google cited a blog post this week stating that their services "create choices for consumers."

The committee requested information from companies' leaders about market share, competitors, their largest customers for specific products, and documents from other surveys. [1[ads1]9659002] It asked Apple for information on App Store concerns such as the decision to remove parental control apps and the policy on whether iPhone users can set non-Apple apps by default.

The committee is seeking communications about Facebook's purchase of Instagram, WhatsApp and Onavo and the decisions to integrate Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and to cut off apps from the social graph.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in July that it was investigating "if and how" major technology companies in "search, social media and some online retail services" are engaging in competitive behavior. Google said it received a formal request for documents from the Justice Department in late August.

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