Senate to Call Spotify, Match at Apple, Google Antitrust Hearing

Google will send a top policy executive to testify at Wednesday’s Senate app store antitrust hearing, while legal executives from Spotify Technology SA, Tile and Match Group Inc. will serve as witnesses, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Google Senior Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy Wilson White will be the search giant’s representative, joining Apple Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer in the spotlight. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, which is holding the hearing, also plans to call Horacio Gutierrez, Kirsten Daru, and Jared Sine, top legal executives from Spotify, Tile and Match Group, respectively.

Mark Cooper, director of research for the Consumer Federation of America, will also be called. Spotify, Tile and Match have all been embroiled in antitrust fights with Apple recently, with Spotify and Match filing complaints about Apple’s App Store rules and fees. Tile believes Apple’s Find My app will give the company’s rumored AirTags accessory for finding physical objects a leg up over third-party rivals.

The Senate subcommittee is investigating Apple and Google over competition issues and concerns from app developers. Apple’s Andeer previously testified on several matters for Apple before the House of Representatives and other U.S. lawmakers.

White, a top deputy of Google legal chief Kent Walker, joined the company in 2011 after working as a software developer and patent lawyer. Since 2013, he has worked as a policy director on Google’s ads and apps divisions, units that were critical to Google’s business success with mobile phones. They’re also units that have been at the center of some of Google’s political troubles.

On the app store issue, Google often argues that it differs from Apple since Android device owners are free to download alternative app stores, like those from Samsung and wireless carriers. But Google does require device manufacturers to install its app store and other mobile services, giving its properties a competitive advantage. That arrangement was the centerpiece of a European Union antitrust case against Google. The company disputed the EU charges.

The subcommittee is run by Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, and Senator Mike Lee is the panel’s top Republican. The two lawmakers said Apple initially declined to participate, and they sent a letter to Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to demand that the company send a witness.

“Apple’s power over the cost, distribution, and availability of mobile applications on the Apple devices used by millions of consumers raises serious competition issues that are of interest to the subcommittee, consumers, and app developers,” the letter said. “A full and fair examination of these issues before the subcommittee requires Apple’s participation.”

The Justice Department’s antitrust division has been investigating Apple’s App Store practices to determine whether the company is harming competition, Bloomberg has reported. Apple is embroiled in an antitrust lawsuit with Epic Games Inc., which goes to trial in early May. Earlier on Monday, Apple said it would allow the Parler social network app to return to the App Store, potentially easing some of the expected questioning on Wednesday.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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