Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest man in the United States, made his first appearance ever before a congressional committee Wednesday.

It did not go well.

The hearing, held by a House Judiciary Committee panel, featured almost five hours of sharp criticism by lawmakers of shockingly anti-competitive practices allegedly deployed by Amazon and three other dominant technology companies — Google, Facebook and Apple. Members from both parties hammered Bezos and his counterparts for seeming to use their positions as gatekeepers of crucial platforms to advance their own interests, harm competitors and abuse the public. The panel has been gathering information for more than a year about the companies’ possible violations of U.S. antitrust law. The hearing gave the four leaders the chance to rebut evidence the panel collected from internal company documents and testimony from their competitors and customers. They were not persuasive.

The four companies’ products and services overlap, but each has a near-chokehold over one or more multibillion-dollar markets. Amazon is responsible for about 40% of e-commerce in the United States and holds a similar lead in the market for hosting internet-based services.

— Los Angeles Times


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