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Politics

Cicilline names the three biggest antitrust concerns around Big Tech

David Cicilline

Cicilline will clarify that the committee instead will focus on patterns of potentially monopolistic behavior across all of them.

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

In his prepared opening remarks, House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline lays out three lines of argument against Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple:

1. The companies are each a "bottleneck for a key channel of distribution." Think: Apple's App Store, Facebook and Google's online advertising platforms. This means the companies can easily exploit the people and businesses that can't live without them.

2. The companies use their "control over digital infrastructure to surveil other companies." This allows them to elbow out competitors. For instance, this could refer to Amazon allegedly spying on third-party sellers to improve its own products, a key pressure point for Jeff Bezos during today's hearing.

3. The companies "abuse their control over current technologies to extend their power." For one, Google stands accused of directing users to its own products, or "self-preferencing."

Critics have said the lawmakers couldn't possibly delve deep into the antitrust arguments around each of these very different companies. But Cicilline will clarify that the committee instead will focus on patterns of potentially monopolistic behavior across all of them.

"At today's hearing, we will examine how each of these companies has used this playbook to achieve and maintain dominance—and how their power shapes and affects our daily lives," Cicilline plans to say.

People

Beeper built the universal messaging app the world needed

It's an app for all your social apps. And part of an entirely new way to think about chat.

Beeper is an app for all your messaging apps, including the hard-to-access ones.

Image: Beeper

Eric Migicovsky likes to tinker. And the former CEO of Pebble — he's now a partner at Y Combinator — knows a thing or two about messaging. "You remember on the Pebble," he asked me, "how we had this microphone, and on Android you could reply to all kinds of messages?" Migicovsky liked that feature, and he especially liked that it didn't care which app you used. Android-using Pebble wearers could speak their replies to texts, Messenger chats, almost any notification that popped up.

That kind of universal, non-siloed approach to messaging appealed to Migicovsky, and it didn't really exist anywhere else. "Remember Trillian from back in the day?" he asked, somewhat wistfully. "Or Adium?" They were the gold-standard of universal messaging apps; users could log in to their AIM, MSN, GChat and Yahoo accounts, and chat with everyone in one place.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

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