Microsoft President Brad Smith will testify at US House antitrust hearing

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Microsoft logo (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft President Brad Smith will reportedly testify at the upcoming House antitrust subcommittee hearing.
  • The hearing will discuss large tech antitrust laws in relation to the news and media.
  • Brad Smith and Microsoft have endorsed certain antitrust laws in Australia and elsewhere.

Microsoft President Brad Smith will reportedly testify at the upcoming House antitrust subcommittee hearing. The news of Smith's upcoming testimony comes from a report from Axios. The hearings will reportedly look into antitrust laws in the United States in relation to the news and media. Smith will reportedly speak at a hearing next Friday, March 12.

Australia recently passed legislation that requires Google and Facebook to pay for local news content. That law will be looked at by the House while considering potential proposals for the U.S.

Both Smith and Microsoft as a company endorsed Australia's media law (opens in new tab). That law requires Facebook and Google to pay media outlets for local news content used on the company's respective platforms.

Microsoft and Smith's support of the media law and call for similar laws to be adopted by the U.S. come as a stark contrast to the reactions of Google and Facebook.

Google and Facebook fought against Australia's proposal while it was being debated. Facebook pulled news content from Facebook in Australia, and Google threatened to take its search business out of the country. It's not clear if the tech giants would be as aggressive in response to similar legislation in the U.S.

Microsoft isn't subject to the legislation in Australia, though it states that it would agree to be if designated. It's likely that Microsoft would take a similar approach to any similar legislation passed in the U.S., though that could depend on the exact nature of the legislation.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

4 Comments
  • While I'm kind of agnostic about laws in the style of the one in Australia, I'm generally pessimistic about this kind of oversight of the tech industry. You can trust things to go OK if the government you're under is sane and is pro-democratic. That's not the case when you're under a government that will lean on any company to do it's bidding, as we saw in the previous administration. It's only a matter of time before an anti-democratic US administration pressures the tech giants for data that will be used for political ends. I don't think American progressives are thinking this through. They're giving cover to anti-democratic forces.
  • Normally, this is where I would say something like: This is precisely why government should be small and stay out of the way -- when it gets big, it gets involved with business. The regulations that emerge inevitably protect the big guys, even if the regulation started as an attempt to constrain them, because the big guys can afford the legions of lawyers to navigate the laws and regulations, but the upstart entrepreneurs can't, making it hard to innovate and compete.
    However, when I see companies driven by political objectives that run opposite to serving their own customers, like Amazon turning off Parler's servers or Ebay blocking customers from selling Dr Seuss books, I'm just dumfounded. On one hand, I want to say that they're private companies, let them do what they want. On the other, they're clearly not managing their business in the best interests of their customers or their shareholders. Rather they're being controlled either by political zealotry (effectively a religion at this point) or fear of a media mob, neither of which has any place running a business that serves hundreds of millions of customers. They've adopted some leftist religious criteria for making business decisions. It's a little like the wedding cake makers who didn't want to bake cakes for a gay marriage, except those couples could at least easily find alternative sources, those companies were small and privately held (not publicly traded), and only served a single city or small region, not the whole world. In contrast, each of these tech companies has a near monopoly on its specific service, or at best has 1-2 competitors, but controlled by the same draconic religion that is more focused on their dogma than competing in the marketplace.
  • It's a like a sci-fi or fantasy movie where all the leaders of these companies have been replaced by aliens or are controlled by some shadowy power or magic. Instead of competing with each other to gain customers, each seeking a different niche and reflecting a different set of views, they're all making the same decisions in lockstep, like a hive mind. If it takes government to attack them like Gandalf to free Théoden from Grima Wormtongue and Saruman the Leftist, then maybe it's actually worth government getting involved here... Just hard not to predict that if the government does get involved, somehow, it will make things even worse.
  • The legislation passed in Australia, which is absolutely ridiculous. The same sites that already have a paywall are now double dipping from Facebook/Google. Oh, and did I mention it doesn't apply to small news outlets? It's only the large corporations that are a part of the legislation so it doesn't even offer any benefit for the little guys.