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Senators question alleged Google contact with critic before testimony

Senators question alleged Google contact with critic before testimony
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Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC | Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cyber during summit with Putin | TSA working on additional security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC Senate confirms Lina Khan to the FTC MORE (D-Minn.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC GOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot MORE (R-Utah) are questioning whether Google tried to influence one of its critics to change his testimony before a hearing last week on dominant app stores.

Jared Sine, chief legal officer at Match Group, testified during the hearing that a Google employee had called his company the night before and asked “why our testimony was different than what we’d said about the situation in our earnings call earlier this year.”

In a letter to Google’s senior director of government affairs and public policy, Wilson White, the top two senators on the panel that held the hearing said they “are deeply troubled by the possibility that Google may have attempted to influence another witness’s testimony.”

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“Any efforts to retaliate against those who speak up about public policy issues or possible legal violations are unacceptable, especially by dominant companies that have the power to destroy the business of a whistle-blower,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter sent Tuesday.

“We feel an obligation to determine the facts about what occurred during Google’s conversation with Match on Tuesday evening,” the lawmakers added. 

A spokesperson for Google told The Hill that "we did not and would not try to influence their testimony, intimidate them or otherwise retaliate.”

“Match is a valued partner and we regularly communicate with them about the business we do together," the spokesperson added in a statement.

The lawmakers are asking for a response to a series of questions about the alleged call by May 4.

Last week’s hearing focused on concerns about the power of Apple's and Google's app stores.

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Several app-based companies, including Match, testified against the commission fees of up to 30 percent that the Silicon Valley giants impose on some apps.

White and Apple’s chief compliance officer, Kyle Andeer, defended their stores' policies and highlighted changes to their commission frameworks.

Updated 3:08 p.m.