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Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Senators scrutinized the connected device industry of home assistants, music players and other smart home products Tuesday.

Driving the news: Lawmakers from both parties see the smart speaker market as another area where tech giants like Google and Amazon may take unfair advantage of competitors and users.

Why it matters: Congress's antitrust legislation has focused mostly on the workings of social network and e-commerce platforms. Tuesday's hearing ofthe Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee makes it more likely that Senate antitrust bills will also take aim at the connected device market.

What they're saying: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), chair of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, told Axios: "There are 94 million people in the U.S. on at least one connected speaker. Let's get ahead of this, as opposed to just being behind it."

Representatives from both Google and Amazon said interoperability was a goal of their products at the hearing. But they declined to fully commit to the concept on the record, Klobuchar said, which she found concerning.

  • Klobuchar said she'd like to see various systems work with each other seamlessly and incorporate robust privacy protections.

Eddie Lazarus, chief counsel of home sound system company Sonos, testified about Sonos' complaints about both Google and Amazon.

  • Lazarus told Axios: "My sense there is broad support for doing something significant... the connected home space is a subset of the overall enterprise of modernizing antitrust for the digital age."

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 21, 2021 - Technology

Google-backed report hits Microsoft dominance

Photo: Halil Sagirkaya / Anadolu Agency

Microsoft's 85% share of the productivity business within the U.S. government market is part of a harmful "monoculture" that stifles innovation, according to a new report commissioned by Google and the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

Between the lines: The report is the latest example of Google and Microsoft going after one another since the companies scrapped a pact to avoid direct attacks.

Updated 49 mins ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker