Source Code: Your daily look at what matters in tech.

source-codesource codeauthorEmily BirnbaumNoneWant your finger on the pulse of everything that's happening in tech? Sign up to get David Pierce's daily newsletter.64fd3cbe9f
×

Get access to Protocol

Your information will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy

I’m already a subscriber
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.

Does Elon Musk make Tesla tech?

Between the massive valuation and the self-driving software, Tesla isn't hard to sell as a tech company. But does that mean that, in 10 years, every car will be tech?

You know what's not tech and is a car company? Volkswagen.

Image: Tesla/Protocol

From disagreements about what "Autopilot" should mean and SolarCity lawsuits to space colonization and Boring Company tunnels, extremely online Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his company stay firmly in the news, giving us all plenty of opportunities to consider whether the company that made electric cars cool counts as tech.

The massive valuation definitely screams tech, as does the company's investment in self-driving software and battery development. But at the end of the day, this might not be enough to convince skeptics that Tesla is anything other than a car company that uses tech. It also raises questions about the role that timeliness plays in calling something tech. In a potential future where EVs are the norm and many run on Tesla's own software — which is well within the realm of possibility — will Tesla lose its claim to a tech pedigree?

Keep Reading Show less
Becca Evans
Becca Evans is a copy editor and producer at Protocol. Previously she edited Carrie Ann Conversations, a wellness and lifestyle publication founded by Carrie Ann Inaba. She's also written for STYLECASTER. Becca lives in Los Angeles.

As President of Alibaba Group, I am often asked, "What is Alibaba doing in the U.S.?"

In fact, most people are not aware we have a business in the U.S. because we are not a U.S. consumer-facing service that people use every day – nor do we want to be. Our consumers – nearly 900 million of them – are located in China.

Keep Reading Show less
J. Michael Evans
Michael Evans leads and executes Alibaba Group's international strategy for globalizing the company and expanding its businesses outside of China.
Protocol | Workplace

Apple isn’t the only tech company spooked by the delta variant

Spooked by rising cases of COVID-19, many tech companies delay their office reopening.

Apple and at least two other Silicon Valley companies have decided to delay their reopenings in response to rising COVID-19 case counts.

Photo: Luis Alvarez via Getty

Apple grabbed headlines this week when it told employees it would delay its office reopening until October or later. But the iPhone maker wasn't alone: At least two other Silicon Valley companies decided to delay their reopenings last week in response to rising COVID-19 case counts.

Both ServiceNow and Pure Storage opted to push back their September return-to-office dates last week, telling employees they can work remotely until at least the end of the year. Other companies may decide to exercise more caution given the current trends.

Keep Reading Show less
Allison Levitsky
Allison Levitsky is a reporter at Protocol covering workplace issues in tech. She previously covered big tech companies and the tech workforce for the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Allison grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley.
Protocol | Workplace

Half of working parents have felt discriminated against during COVID

A new survey found that working parents at the VP level are more likely to say they've faced discrimination at work than their lower-level counterparts.

A new survey looks at discrimination faced by working parents during the pandemic.

Photo: d3sign/Getty Images

The toll COVID-19 has taken on working parents — particularly working moms — is, by now, well-documented. The impact for parents in low-wage jobs has been particularly devastating.

But a new survey, shared exclusively with Protocol, finds that among parents who kept their jobs through the pandemic, people who hold more senior positions are actually more likely to say they faced discrimination at work than their lower-level colleagues.

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.

Protocol | Enterprise

Alphabet goes deep into industrial robotic software with Intrinsic

If it succeeds, the gambit could help support Google Cloud's lofty ambitions in the manufacturing sector.

Alphabet is aiming to make advanced robotic technology affordable to customers.

Photo: Getty Images

Alphabet launched a new division Friday called Intrinsic, which will focus on building software for industrial robots, per a blog post. The move plunges the tech giant deeper into a sector that's in the midst of a major wave of digitization.

The goal of Intrinsic is to "give industrial robots the ability to sense, learn, and automatically make adjustments as they're completing tasks, so they work in a wider range of settings and applications," CEO Wendy Tan-White wrote in the post.

Keep Reading Show less
Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Latest Stories