(BBC) – Unprecedented is a dangerous word in journalism, but this really hasn’t happened before.
On Wednesday, four of the biggest names in tech will give evidence to members of the US Congress.
Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Sundar Pichai (Google), Tim Cook (Apple) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) will all be grilled.
Jeff Bezos – the world’s richest man – has never testified before either house. They have never all been quizzed together.
How these tech bosses do, how they stand up to scrutiny, could be a defining moment in their future relationship with government.
Central to the interrogation will be whether these tech giants are simply too big.
The Covid pandemic has put this into sharp focus. Where other companies have struggled, Big Tech companies have thrived. Together they are now worth $5tn dollars. It’s led to accusations that – just like the banks – they are simply too big to fail.
The number of complaints levelled at these companies are so numerous they are too many to name individually here.
What are they likely to say?
In pre-released comments, Mark Zuckerberg argued that Facebook had become successful “the American way” – providing products that people find valuable after starting with nothing.
“Our story would not have been possible without US laws that encourage competition and innovation,” he said.
But he acknowledged that there were concerns about the size and perceived power of technology companies and that there should be a more active role for governments and regulators – and updated rules for the internet.