Power

These groups really want Congress to subpoena Big Tech's CEOs

More than 60 organizations are urging the House Judiciary Committee to subpoena testimony from Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos.

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple has continued to hold out and has not yet confirmed that it is willing to offer testimony from Tim Cook.

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

More than 60 organizations — including unions, advocacy groups and small-business alliances — are urging the House Judiciary Committee to subpoena testimony from Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos.

In a pair of letters to the committee on Thursday, the groups argue that testimony under oath from the tech executives, alongside any relevant documents, is "critical" to the ongoing congressional investigation into whether Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon have violated antitrust laws.

"After a year of work on your bipartisan investigation, and with only six months remaining in the current legislative session, now is the time to act to ensure that the investigation can be brought to a successful conclusion and that any subsequent report can be written with full consideration given to all relevant materials," the groups wrote.

One of the letters was co-led by the American Economic Liberties Project, a progressive anti-monopoloy group, and the Internet Accountability Project, a conservative organization geared toward taking on Big Tech. The other includes sixty progressive organizations, including Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several unions.

Over the past week, Facebook, Google and Amazon have all told the committee they are open to having their CEOs to testify — as long as other issues are resolved first, including the timing and format of the hearing, sources confirmed to Protocol. Sources said that representatives for Facebook and Google said their CEOs will testify only if the CEOs for their companies plus Amazon and Apple all appear jointly.

Apple has continued to hold out and has not yet confirmed that it is willing to offer testimony from Cook. Apple has argued that its business model is fundamentally different from the those of the other companies under investigation because it does not rely on user data to make money. But the committee has repeatedly questioned Apple's control over its App Store, and the company is currently facing two antitrust probes from the European Union.

Dave Segal, the executive director of digital rights organization Demand Progress, told Protocol that the letters are intended to ramp up pressure on House Judiciary Committee members to use their subpoena powers rather than allow the companies to dictate the terms of the testimony.

"As far as I'm concerned, as far as our coalition is concerned, these companies have not by any stretch actually agreed to testify voluntarily," Segal said. "There's a real tension between getting full compliance from the companies and being able to move forward expeditiously with the end of the investigation."

For more than a year, the Judiciary Committee has been investigating monopoly concerns around Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple, questioning whether the companies have wielded their enormous market power to crush competitors and scoop up potential rivals. So far, lawmakers have threatened a subpoena only for Bezos.

The investigation is expected to wrap up over the next few months, and a source familiar with the probe told Protocol that lawmakers are hoping to secure testimony from the CEOs by the end of July.

Fintech

Gavin Newsom shows crypto some California love

“A more flexible approach is needed,” Gov. Newsom said in rejecting a bill that would require crypto companies to get a state license.

Strong bipartisan support wasn’t enough to convince Newsom that requiring crypto companies to register with the state’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation is the smart path for California.

Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media

The Digital Financial Assets Law seemed like a legislative slam dunk in California for critics of the crypto industry.

But strong bipartisan support — it passed 71-0 in the state assembly and 31-6 in the Senate — wasn’t enough to convince Gov. Gavin Newsom that requiring crypto companies to register with the state’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation is the smart path for California.

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Workplace

Slack’s rallying cry at Dreamforce: No more meetings

It’s not all cartoon bears and therapy pigs — work conferences are a good place to talk about the future of work.

“We want people to be able to work in whatever way works for them with flexible schedules, in meetings and out of meetings,” Slack chief product officer Tamar Yehoshua told Protocol at Dreamforce 2022.

Photo: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Dreamforce is primarily Salesforce’s show. But Slack wasn’t to be left out, especially as the primary connector between Salesforce and the mainstream working world.

The average knowledge worker spends more time using a communication tool like Slack than a CRM like Salesforce, positioning it as the best Salesforce product to concern itself with the future of work. In between meeting a therapy pig and meditating by the Dreamforce waterfall, Protocol sat down with several Slack execs and conference-goers to chat about the shifting future.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at llawrence@protocol.com.

LA is a growing tech hub. But not everyone may fit.

LA has a housing crisis similar to Silicon Valley’s. And single-family-zoning laws are mostly to blame.

As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers, whose high salaries put them at an advantage in both LA's renting and buying markets.

Photo: Nat Rubio-Licht/Protocol

LA’s tech scene is on the rise. The number of unicorn companies in Los Angeles is growing, and the city has become the third-largest startup ecosystem nationally behind the Bay Area and New York with more than 4,000 VC-backed startups in industries ranging from aerospace to creators. As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers. The city is quickly becoming more and more like Silicon Valley — a new startup and a dozen tech workers on every corner and companies like Google, Netflix, and Twitter setting up offices there.

But with growth comes growing pains. Los Angeles, especially the burgeoning Silicon Beach area — which includes Santa Monica, Venice, and Marina del Rey — shares something in common with its namesake Silicon Valley: a severe lack of housing.

Keep Reading Show less
Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

Policy

SFPD can now surveil a private camera network funded by Ripple chair

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a policy that the ACLU and EFF argue will further criminalize marginalized groups.

SFPD will be able to temporarily tap into private surveillance networks in certain circumstances.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Ripple chairman and co-founder Chris Larsen has been funding a network of security cameras throughout San Francisco for a decade. Now, the city has given its police department the green light to monitor the feeds from those cameras — and any other private surveillance devices in the city — in real time, whether or not a crime has been committed.

This week, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved a controversial plan to allow SFPD to temporarily tap into private surveillance networks during life-threatening emergencies, large events, and in the course of criminal investigations, including investigations of misdemeanors. The decision came despite fervent opposition from groups, including the ACLU of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which say the police department’s new authority will be misused against protesters and marginalized groups in a city that has been a bastion for both.

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

Latest Stories
Bulletins