Congress opened a new front in the government’s antitrust probe of giant technology firms, with House lawmakers on Friday demanding emails and other records from some of the industry’s top chief executives as they look for evidence of anticompetitive behavior, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The requests from House Judiciary Committee leaders from both parties to Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Alphabet Inc., owner of Google, set up potential conflicts between tech leaders protective of their business tactics and lawmakers who want to scour their corporate records, the Journal noted.
Among other requests, the committee asked the firms to provide by October 14 reams of documents, including executive communications and financial statements as well as information about competitors, market share, mergers and key business decisions.
The dozens of executives named in the requests include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google’s early leaders Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt.
“The companies are likely to resist such carte blanche access, which could set in motion negotiations with the House committee over the scope of materials provided,” said William Kovacic, former chair of the Federal Trade Commission.
The House committee isn’t subpoenaing the records, though it has the authority to do so – a fact that gives lawmakers a stick they can use in negotiations over access.
Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the requests will aid an investigation, begun on June 3, into “growing evidence that a handful of corporations have come to capture an outsized share of online commerce and communications.”