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Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google chiefs ordered to hand over emails in US competition probe

Hasan Chowdhury
Lawmakers are hoping to determine whether anti-competitive tactics were deliberately employed by the Silicon Valley firms. - REUTERS

Acompetition investigation into Silicon Valley’s tech giants entered a new chapter on Friday after lawmakers demanded access to internal emails and other sensitive records of big tech’s top brass. 

A US House of Representatives panel called on Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to turn over detailed financial information, as well as the private communications of top executives, as it looked to up the ante in its inquiry into abuse of market dominance. 

Letters from the committee have called for access to internal emails over the last decade from the chief executives Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page as well as other senior employees of the tech firms. The companies have been 

It’s the latest move from regulators looking to scrutinise the practices of tech firms which now count themselves among the most powerful companies in the world, and signals a growing divide between Washington and Silicon Valley. 

The lawmakers are hoping to determine whether or not anti-competitive tactics were deliberately employed by the Silicon Valley firms in order to gain an edge on rivals in key areas such as digital advertising and e-commerce.

They are also keen to hone in on details around  internal operations and private discussions and records about acquisitions or merger targets. 

The panel can compel the companies to hand over any information requested, though requests made in letters do not constitute official legal demands. 

US Representative Jerry Nadler said the internet has “delivered enormous benefits” but warned of unfair advantages being created in the market. 

“There is growing evidence that a handful of corporations have come to capture an outsized share of online commerce and communications.”

Google did not comment but referred to a blogpost written last week by Kent Walker, chief legal officer at Google, who fought back against the allegations of anti-competitive practice.

He said the search engine’s services “help people, create more choice and support thousands of jobs and small businesses” and noted that governments “should have oversight” to ensure companies comply with the law.

Apple and Facebook did not immediately comment. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.