Harm to Journalism Industry Featured Heavily in Historic Tech Giants Antitrust Hearing

One year after the initial hearing highlighting the damage tech giants have done to the journalism industry, the House Judiciary Committee brought down the gavel against CEOs from the biggest tech companies, Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. The Committee had done their homework and they grilled these CEOs with facts and evidence of how the tech giants have harmed competition, business, and our democracy. 

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) began a line of questioning by saying “many of us feel a deep urgency to protect independent journalism” and pressed Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Google’s exploitation of its dominance of the digital ad market to lower ad revenue for news outlets. And the Chair of the full Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), pressed both Google and Facebook on how they have used their market power to harm news publishers. These platforms dominate web traffic and digital advertising to such a degree that unilateral decisions by these companies can destroy whole industries like the journalism industry.  

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) hammered Google on its hypocritical claims about privacy. Rep. Armstrong rightly zeroed in on Google’s massive data harvesting capabilities and got Mr. Pichai to acknowledge that Google’s own data collection will continue after it eliminates third party cookies but that it will be blocked for Google’s competitors. Google’s own study shows eliminating third-party cookies would reduce digital ad revenue for news publishers by an average of 62%. Rep. Armstrong summed it up by saying that Google “uses privacy as a cudgel against competitors.” 

Antitrust Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) highlighted the genuine bipartisan approach of this investigation when he endorsed aggressively enforcing existing antitrust laws against the tech giants. Subcommittee Chair David Cicilline (D-RI) and Rep. Sensenbrenner deserve enormous credit for leading this bipartisan investigation. 

The following is a statement from Laura Bassett, former Senior Politics Reporter for HuffPost who was laid off in January 2019, and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project:

Journalism is in freefall and Google and Facebook are letting the industry nose dive as they sit back to profit off of this downfall. We agree with Rep. Jayapal about the ‘deep urgency to protect independent journalism’ and applaud Subcommittee Chair Rep. Cicilline and Ranking Member Rep. Sensebrenner for leading this truly bipartisan investigation. The time has come to use the antitrust laws to stop these tech giants from using their monopoly power to harm the journalism industry before it’s too late.