CE Pro August 2021 - 26

Networking+HomeControl
Congress Calls Out Amazon/Google Smart Home 'Monopoly'
char. " Connected technolSAYING
THE smart home
industry has a " monopoly
problem, " Sen. Amy Klobuchar
(D-Minn.), kicked off a
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee
anti-trust hearing
on June 15 that gathered
executives from Amazon,
Google and Sonos to testify.
The hearing addressed the
growing presence of big
tech companies in the smart
home market, along with
concerns related to privacy/
data-sharing, interoperability,
and patent infringement,
among other subjects.
" The competition subcommittee
has been examining
the problems that arise
when a handful of companies
become powerful enough to
distort competition in the
marketplace, " said Klobuchar.
" So far we have seen
that excessive market power
benefits a few companies
that are able to wield it at
the expense of consumers,
businesses and workers.
" Our current anti-trust
laws have not been effective
in stemming the rise of
monopoly power or its abuse
by dominant companies. As
a result, we see competition
problems in industry after
industry across our economy.
Today we will examine
an emerging industry
that could fall prey to this
same dynamic: connected
home technology. Millions
of Americans already have
connected devices in their
homes, including speakers,
smart televisions, systems to
control lighting or temperature
within the home. And
26 | CE Pro August 2021
we are just at the beginning.
These technologies will continue
to develop for things
like connected refrigerators
and washing machines. In
the years to come, they will
play an even larger role in
our lives. "
The hearing was also
overseen by Sen. Mike Lee
(R-Utah).
Klobuchar admitted she
considers herself a fan of
smart home technology, but
choose which devices you
want based upon whether
or not they play nicely with
Google's or Amazon's digital
assistant, or whether Google
or Amazon has locked them
into an exclusive contract, "
she said. " We have seen what
happens when the largest
and most powerful tech
companies make their own
decisions about interoperability.
They embrace it as long
as it helps their bottom line. "
" We have seen what happens
when the largest and most
powerful tech companies
make their own decisions
about interoperability.
They embrace it as long as it
helps their bottom line. "
-Sen. Amy Klobuchar
said, " We must get ahead of
this. The American people
are counting on us [the federal
government] to protect
competition. "
She cited data that at
least 94 million Americans
own at least one connected
speaker. She asked if Amazon
and Google will continue
to allow third-party devices
to connect through their
voice assistants " even if that
threatens their dominance. "
She noted that in the
future, U.S. households
will likely have as many as
20 connected devices in
their homes " and we want
those devices to seamlessly
interoperate. "
" You should not have to
The third area of concern
raised by the panel was
related to default settings,
which most consumers do
not change.
" The market leaders
benefit from having their
service pre-installed. Imagine
a household with a connected
refrigerator that
automatically replenishes the
supply of certain groceries.
Do we want Amazon to set
up Whole Foods or Amazon
Fresh stores which it owns as
the only place to purchase
these groceries? Absolutely
not... consumers should
choose... not vertically integrated
tech giants. "
" Finally, I have concerns
about privacy, " said Klobuogies
should make our lives
easier, but that should not
come at the price of basic
privacy rights. "
She noted how connected
devices already gather
information on what we say
to each other, what we eat,
how often we do our laundry
and how well we sleep at
night, among other things.
" That highly personal and
sensitive information should
not be aggregated and
auctioned off to the highest
bidder. In home technology,
we see some of the
most powerful firms today
that dominate technology
poised to dominate the
future [of the smart home].
We hear concerns about
Amazon's and Google's
growing market power with
connected speakers. We are
also hearing concerns about
use of consumers' personal
information. "
Testifying for Amazon was
Ryan McCrate, vice president
and associate general
counsel; Wilson White,
senior director public policy
and government relations for
Google; and Eddie Lazarus,
chief legal officer for Sonos.
Both Amazon and Google
defended their practices, with
McCrate describing Amazon's
" Works with Alexa " program
that enables other companies
to integrate. White said Google
makes consumer choice
and privacy priorities. Later,
Sonos' Lazarus called out
both companies for alleged
violations of Sonos patents.
-Jason Knott
cepro.com
http://www.cepro.com

CE Pro August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CE Pro August 2021

CE Pro August 2021 - Presentation
CE Pro August 2021 - Cover1
CE Pro August 2021 - Cover2
CE Pro August 2021 - 1
CE Pro August 2021 - 2
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CE Pro August 2021 - Cover3
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