Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

The federal government is listening to complaints about how the major digital platforms exploit their size and the paucity of regulations — and companies are lining up to tell their tales of woe. Yelp public policy chief Luther Lowe says firms that once quietly grumbled are now talking to the Department of Justice about anti-competitive behavior by the big tech companies, all of which vigorously deny the accusations. Two Instagram executives stated that, although some would like to break up social giant Facebook, that won’t help the problem. Continue reading Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

Facebook Removes More Fake Accounts and Hate Speech

In Q1 2019, Facebook removed 2.2 billion fake accounts from its popular social platform. That compares to 583 million fake accounts the company deleted in Q1 2018; in Q4 that year, it removed “just more” than 1 billion. Facebook said that “the vast majority” is removed within minutes of being created, so they do not count in its monthly/daily active user metrics. In its biannual report, Facebook also said its automated detection software used to delete “illicit content” was improving, removing more than half of the targeted speech. Continue reading Facebook Removes More Fake Accounts and Hate Speech

Microsoft Urges U.S. to Adopt Laws Similar to EU’s GDPR

Microsoft corporate vice president/deputy general counsel Julie Brill believes that the federal government is essential in guaranteeing “a strong right to privacy” in the United States. She noted that California and Illinois have enacted serious data protection laws, but that the U.S. needs federal regulation. She came to that conclusion after observing that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enacted almost one year ago, has been “very effective” in transforming how companies manage personal data. Continue reading Microsoft Urges U.S. to Adopt Laws Similar to EU’s GDPR

NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

In an opinion released May 14, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that Uber drivers should be classified as independent contractors, and not company employees. According to the NLRB, Uber drivers qualify as independent workers because they are given “significant entrepreneurial opportunity” and “virtually complete control of their cars, work schedules, and log-in locations, together with their freedom to work for competitors of Uber.” The opinion is a victory for Uber and a setback for drivers and labor advocates, since it makes it more challenging for drivers to file labor complaints, form a union, or seek federal protection. Continue reading NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

In what could become a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled to allow individual iPhone users to sue Apple in antitrust violation cases related to the tech giant’s App Store. In a 5-4 decision written by Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that determined App Store customers could sue Apple for allegedly driving up prices by forcing them to purchase apps exclusively from the App Store. Apple lost its argument that was based on the contention that third-party developers set the prices for apps. While Apple holds steady in its belief that it does not represent a monopoly, the ruling could have future ramifications regarding consumers who seek to sue other app sellers for antitrust violations. Continue reading Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

Facebook Is Developing Cryptocurrency Payments System

Facebook is currently recruiting financial firms and online merchants to launch a “cryptocurrency-based payments system on the back of its gigantic social network,” reports The Wall Street Journal. At its center is a digital coin that users would be able to send to one another and use to make purchases on Facebook and on the broader Internet. This has the potential to significantly disrupt, or even up-end, “the traditional, lucrative plumbing of e-commerce and would likely be the most mainstream application yet of cryptocurrency.”

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Canada, New York Rebuke Facebook For Privacy Violations

In Canada, privacy commissioners stated that Facebook’s “superficial and ineffective safeguards and consent mechanisms” violated local and national laws in allowing third parties to access users’ personal data — and that the company has refused to fix the problems. The New York State attorney general plans to investigate Facebook’s “unauthorized collection” of 1.5+ million users’ email address books. Facebook just banned “personality quiz” apps similar to the one behind the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to improve security. Continue reading Canada, New York Rebuke Facebook For Privacy Violations

Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

In its first quarter earnings report yesterday, Facebook revealed that it is putting aside $3 billion (about 6 percent of its cash and marketable securities) in anticipation of an upcoming fine from the Federal Trade Commission regarding privacy violations. The penalty, which could become the highest of its kind against a tech company by U.S. regulators and the biggest privacy-related fine in the FTC’s history, is expected to run from $3 billion to $5 billion. The social media giant posted more than $15 billion in revenue, a 26 percent increase over the year-earlier period. Continue reading Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

U.S., China Advance Negotiations on Trade, Cybersecurity

U.S. and China just held a meeting to resolve several issues that have risen to the forefront in their yearlong trade dispute. The Trump administration is pushing China to lift restrictions that make it difficult for U.S. companies to operate there. U.S. businesses also chafe against China’s cybersecurity laws that require them to store data in China and rely on Chinese network equipment. Although these topics have not been on the negotiating table, China has recently made it clear it is willing to discuss them. Continue reading U.S., China Advance Negotiations on Trade, Cybersecurity

Facebook CEO Calls For Increased Government Regulation

Mark Zuckerberg thinks tech companies, including Facebook, have “immense responsibilities.” Acknowledging the problems related to social media, he stressed that tech companies can’t solve all those problems on their own. Instead, he opined, the government and regulators need to play a stronger role. “By updating the rules for the Internet,” he said, “We can preserve what’s best about it.” He focused on four areas that he said should be regulated: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability. Continue reading Facebook CEO Calls For Increased Government Regulation

EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

European regulators yesterday fined tech giant Google 1.5 billion euros (about $1.7 billion U.S.) for violating antitrust rules in the online ad market. This marks the European Union’s third fine against Google since 2017. As part of its larger efforts to better regulate global technology powerhouses, EU authorities took action based on their contention that Google has been imposing unfair terms on those companies in Europe that use the Google search feature on their websites. In the U.S., regulators are also taking a closer look at business models and mergers involving big tech companies. Continue reading EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

Jury Finds Apple Owes Qualcomm $31.6M in Patent Dispute

According to a federal jury in a U.S. District Court San Diego, Apple infringed on three Qualcomm patents and owes the chipmaker about $31.6 million. Qualcomm filed the lawsuit in 2018, claiming that Apple violated patents related to graphics processing and improving the battery life of mobile devices. During the eight-day trial, Qualcomm asked for unpaid patent royalties involving the iPhones that infringed on its patents. The decision marks the latest in an ongoing legal battle and series of lawsuits between the two tech companies. Next month, the companies will head to court over antitrust claims by Apple. Continue reading Jury Finds Apple Owes Qualcomm $31.6M in Patent Dispute

Elizabeth Warren Introducing Plan to Break Up Tech Giants

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is proposing “a regulatory plan aimed at breaking up some of America’s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Google and Facebook,” according to The New York Times. “The proposal … calls for the appointment of regulators who would ‘unwind tech mergers that illegally undermine competition,’ as well as legislation that would prohibit platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.” The plan would also call for the rollback of tech acquisitions, “including Facebook’s deals for WhatsApp and Instagram, Amazon’s addition of Whole Foods, and Google’s purchase of Waze.” Continue reading Elizabeth Warren Introducing Plan to Break Up Tech Giants

Facebook Pushed for Global Support Against Privacy Laws

Leaked internal Facebook documents reportedly suggest that the company initiated secretive worldwide lobbying efforts to gain influence from hundreds of regulators and legislators across nations including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Malaysia, all 28 member states of the European Union, the United States and United Kingdom. Reports indicate the social giant promised investments and incentives to politicians in hopes of getting their support for Facebook’s opposition to data privacy legislation. Continue reading Facebook Pushed for Global Support Against Privacy Laws

Advertisers to Spend More on Digital Than Traditional Media

New estimates from eMarketer indicate that advertisers in the U.S. will spend more on digital advertising through the likes of Facebook and Google in 2019 than traditional media such as television, radio and newspapers. Advertisers are expected to spend in excess of $129 billion on digital advertising this year as compared to the more than $109 billion they will spend on traditional advertising. The shift would mark the first time in history that digital advertising would comprise more than half of the U.S. ad market. Continue reading Advertisers to Spend More on Digital Than Traditional Media

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