Irish Examiner View: Powerful must be accountable

Tech giants testify to Congress
Irish Examiner View: Powerful must be accountable
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The four Big Tech leaders answered questions  before Congress at a hearing by the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust. Picture: PA

For the first time, the heads of US tech giants are being required to justify their activities before the United States Congress.

In a rare political spectacle, politicians yesterday began questioning the leaders of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google about how they wield commercial power.

The House of Representatives hearing comes amid rising concerns over 'Big Tech' dominance, which has become even more pronounced during the coronavirus pandemic.

The joint appearance before the House Judiciary Committee features Tim Cook of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google.

It is about time that the most powerful unelected people in the world were brought to book. 

The tech giants are the new colonialists, a 21st century version of a largely 19th century phenomenon. 

While colonialism was practised by empires such as ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome and saw a resurgence in the 15th century, it reached its height in Africa and India in the 1800s when chartered European companies arrived with technology and left with profits.

Today’s tech giants are also looking to Africa as well as India. Google, Microsoft and Chinese giant Huawei already have a presence in Africa, offering technology but with little oversight. 

In India, American companies dominate the internet, leading to fears the country which only gained independence from Britain in 1947, is being colonised all over again.

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