The CEOs of Big Tech firms Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will testify together – at least virtually – in the sixth of a series of hearings in Congress being held by the House Committee on the Judiciary. The series of hearings have been called, ‘Online Platforms and Market Power’, that have largely focused on ‘Big Tech’ corporations and their powerful position over the Internet and social media. The hearing will specifically be held in the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law.
With a hearing that has two of the top five richest billionaires in the world testifying, including Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon at #1 and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook at #4, the testimony with respect to antitrust matters will likely have a high level of public interest tomorrow. As these firms have fallen under the microscope for everything from allowing interference in our electoral process to profiting off of our personal data, these questions the U.S. Government has are also some of the problems that blockchain technology seeks to solve with a decentralized approach to rebuilding the World Wide Web in what is commonly known as Web 3.0.
Many blockchain companies describe the approach in building distributed systems as a new chance at the Internet as it was originally imagined and specifically target these ‘Big Tech’ firms as a problem which decentralized systems can fix.
“There are a lot of challenges with centralized parties that can be improved by distributed ledger technology. Part of the promise of the web was to level the playing field and democratize information. Technologies like smart contracts, digital securities and Bitcoin can change the way people interact and reduce the need for powerful central parties,” says bitcoin advocate and economic strategist Bruce Fenton, Founder and CEO, Chainstone Labs and Founder/ President of Atlantic Financial / Atlantic Financial Blockchain Labs.
Facebook seemed to acknowledge the threat of Bitcoin and capitalize on stablecoins, or a less volatile cryptocurrency that could be used in payments, by introducing Libra last year. Introducing a new cryptocurrency and blockchain platform won the quick attention of regulators, who became concerned about the idea of a threat to the U.S. dollar as a global reserve currency, not to mention general reservations about Facebook’s past behaviors with personal data. The social media giant is not alone, as Google has had its own war against crypto when it knocked off YouTube videos that had cryptocurrency content; however, the company soon responded by saying this was an error.
The Forbes Blockchain 50, a list of enterprises embracing the technology underlying cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and using it to speed up business processes, increase transparency and potentially save billions of dollars, includes all but Apple. While Facebook’s Libra project earned it a place on the list, Amazon Web Services has been offering blockchain when companies do not want to build their own as an extension of the AWS platform. Google has integrated a data analytics platform with the blockchain called ‘Chainlink’, that would allow data from outside sources to be used in applications built directly on the blockchain.
Speculating on the possible outcomes for Big Tech, Congress may consider the idea of how decentralization – what many in the blockchain world are developing and working on day in and day out – might actually play a role in public policy toward the Internet. As companies such as ‘Ma Bell’, or AT&T
Despite calls by the Republicans, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter – and recently a Bitcoin advocate in his own right – will not be testifying as the company is much smaller than the other four and an antitrust case is less likely. However, Twitter has had a great amount of influence in discussions on social media, which raises the question of whether our Antitrust laws are sufficient enough to handle the modern dilemma of our Internet, as we know it. Details and a livestream of the hearing can be found here: