Big tech’s day of reckoning may have finally arrived as the House Judiciary committee began its antitrust investigation with a hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Tech NYC executive director Julie Samuels believes the investigation is a "truly transformational moment" that happens once in a century.
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“We're talking about how the internet has upended so much on how we live our lives, do business, communicate,” she told FOX Business' Charles Payne. “These companies are finding themselves in a tough spot, and I think it's because as a society we're in a bit of a tough spot.”
In its first round of hearings, the committee investigated how companies including Google and Facebook are affecting local journalism. Lawmakers have accused tech companies of stealing ad revenue resulting in the bankruptcy of local newspapers.
According to a report by the University of North Carolina, 20 percent of local papers have merged or closed since 2004. It also claims that 2,000 counties have no daily newspapers and that 3.2 million people have no daily or weekly newspapers at all.
One reason lawmakers blame big tech is because Google, Facebook and Amazon control of roughly 60 percent of the ad money spent online, according to research firm Emarketer. A study by the News Media Alliance said that Google made $4.7 billion in ad revenue by scraping and publishing content from local media outlets without giving them a cut.
A Google spokesperson told Fox Business’ Hillary Vaughn, “We’ve worked for many years to be a collaborative and supportive technology and advertising partner to the news industry as it works to adapt to the new economics of the internet. Every month, Google News and Google Search drive over 10 billion clicks to publishers' websites, which drives subscriptions and significant ad revenue.”
While Samuels believes regulating big tech is crucial to mitigating the damage they can do, she also points out that there still needs to be competition in the industry.
“You don't want to create a space where you crush the competition,” she said. “Where the regulatory burden is so high that you are not going to get new startups and that you’re not going to have competition.”
Going forward, she believes that we will see more technology jobs in the federal government to help lawmakers adapt to regulating big tech.