Google, Amazon Reach an Accord in OS Battle for Smart TVs

Google and Amazon have struck a deal to end simmering hostilities over a battle for control of smart TVs. After a particularly damning report by the Competition Commission of India last week, Amazon announced that TCL — a major player in the drama — will this fall release in Europe two new models equipped with Amazon Fire TV software. The new pax has also paved the way for Amazon to work with consumer electronics companies including Hisense, Xiaomi, and more, who were previously forbidden from using the Amazon OS under Google’s licensing terms. Continue reading Google, Amazon Reach an Accord in OS Battle for Smart TVs

Meta Says It Will Sell Giphy per UK Competition Unit’s Order

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has rendered a final decision ordering Meta Platforms to sell its Giphy marketplace for animated GIFs. Meta acquired the U.S.-based Giphy in 2020. The CMA subsequently found the purchase anticompetitive, determining the move would stunt innovation in UK display advertising and limit social media choices for consumers. After Meta failed to decisively win an appeal, the matter went back to the CMA, which this week reaffirmed its earlier decision and ordered Giphy sold. Meta said in a statement it is “disappointed by the CMA’s decision,” but won’t pursue further appeal. Continue reading Meta Says It Will Sell Giphy per UK Competition Unit’s Order

How the DOJ Antitrust Publishing Lawsuit Relates to Amazon

The nation’s largest publisher, Penguin Random House, was in federal court this week to defend itself against the Justice Department, which filed an antitrust lawsuit to block its acquisition of Simon & Schuster. The DOJ has been increasingly focused on antitrust and is hiring more trial lawyers in preparation for an action against Alphabet’s Google for its dominance in search and digital advertising. Although ostensibly on trial for threatening to shrink the number of American mass-market publishers from five to four, the Penguin suit also involves examination of the retail power of Amazon. Continue reading How the DOJ Antitrust Publishing Lawsuit Relates to Amazon

EU Checks Power of Big Tech with Digital Services Regulation

The European Parliament has adopted two digital acts, one focused on leveling the competitive playing field, the other on protecting consumer rights online. The Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act are both expected to take effect this fall, after the European Commission signs off. “We are finally building a single digital market, the most important one in the ‘free world,’” EU commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton said Tuesday. “The same predictable rules will apply, everywhere in the EU, for our 450 million citizens, bringing everyone a safer and fairer digital space.” Continue reading EU Checks Power of Big Tech with Digital Services Regulation

Chinese Technology Companies Are Experiencing Slowdowns

China’s tech sector is taking a hit. Revenue for e-commerce giant Alibaba posted what appears to be its most sluggish quarterly increase ever, at 9 percent, with competitor JD.com also paced among its worst performances, with revenue up 18 percent for Q1. The nation’s search engine leader, Baidu, reported 1 percent revenue growth, while Tencent remained flat. Supply chain problems due to the COVID-19 resurgence in conjunction with Beijing’s recent measures to battle back monopolies are cited as causes for the negative market turn. Since late 2020, China has been investigating alleged monopolistic practices among many top corporations. Continue reading Chinese Technology Companies Are Experiencing Slowdowns

FTC Develops New Antitrust Strategies for Taking on Big Tech

The Federal Trade Commission is taking an alternative approach to antitrust protections and Big Tech, focusing not on the ultimate harms of monopolies to consumers but rather the damage perpetrated by the giants inflicted on smaller companies that are often their partners. For an agency that since the mid-80s has focused its antitrust actions on the price-gouging or shoddy goods that usually result from consolidation, the new strategy may be an effective way to rein-in companies that offer their services free of charge, like Google and Facebook, or at what appears to be market rate, like Amazon. Continue reading FTC Develops New Antitrust Strategies for Taking on Big Tech

Apple Makes Changes for App Developers, News Publishers

Facing increased regulatory scrutiny, Apple announced significant changes to its App Store, enabling developers to inform customers about ways to pay outside the App Store and expanding prices they can offer for subscriptions as well as in-app purchases and paid apps. The company settled a class-action lawsuit with software developers and is expecting a judgment in a suit filed by Epic Games over many of the same issues. Apple’s move is the biggest it’s ever made in response to developers alleging anticompetitive behavior. The company separately announced plans to cut its commission rate for publishers on Apple News. Continue reading Apple Makes Changes for App Developers, News Publishers

China’s New Data Privacy Law Targets Big Tech Companies

China passed the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) for data privacy, to take effect November 1 of this year. The law is similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and includes a requirement for organizations and individuals to minimize data collection of Chinese citizen’s personal data and obtain prior consent. Unlike the GDPR, however, the Chinese law is not expected to limit state surveillance or access to such data, though it could apply to lower-level government agencies. Continue reading China’s New Data Privacy Law Targets Big Tech Companies

China Boosts Control by Buying Stakes in ByteDance, Weibo

China is strengthening its control of Internet content companies by increasing regulatory scrutiny, buying stakes in companies and filling board seats among other actions. Most recently, a state-backed company purchased 1 percent of the shares of ByteDance, parent company of TikTok, which gave it the right to appoint a director to its board. Weibo also sold a 1 percent stake to a state investor and gave it a seat on its board of directors. China has discussed owning shares of social media companies since 2016. Continue reading China Boosts Control by Buying Stakes in ByteDance, Weibo

EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, is calling for greater global alignment on tech regulation, noting “we do not have a global competition enforcer, but we have global companies.” Vestager added she was “really encouraged” by the Biden administration’s efforts to take similar actions in the U.S. with the 72 actions listed in his recent executive order that focused on Big Tech’s collection of data, surveillance practices and acquisitions of startups. Continue reading EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

President Joe Biden signed an executive order with 72 proposals and actions for a “whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy.” Among them, President Biden encourages the FCC to restore net neutrality rules undone by former President Donald Trump, to “consider limiting early termination fees and prevent Internet service providers from making deals with landlords that limit tenant choices,” and to revive the President Barack Obama era Broadband Nutrition Label and its better price transparency. Continue reading Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

Latest Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit Targets Google Play Store

Alphabet’s Google is being sued by a group of 36 states and the District of Columbia that claim the Big Tech company abuses its market dominance with the Google Play Store. Although it is the fourth such state or federal antitrust lawsuit filed against Google since October, this lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is the first to take aim directly at the tech giant’s app store. The other suits have focused on search and advertising. California, Utah, North Carolina, New York and Tennessee lead this suit. Continue reading Latest Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit Targets Google Play Store

Court Dismisses FTC, States Antitrust Suit Against Facebook

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge James Boasberg dismissed antitrust lawsuits against social media giant Facebook brought by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 states. The judge said the states waited too long to bring up a case on deals made in 2012 and 2014 and that prosecutors failed to prove that Facebook holds a monopoly over social networking. The FTC can bring the case back in 30 days but the judge said it would require a lot more detail. Facebook’s stock rose 4.2 percent in the wake of the news. Continue reading Court Dismisses FTC, States Antitrust Suit Against Facebook

European Union to Conduct Antitrust Investigation of Google

The European Union has launched a formal antitrust investigation into Alphabet’s Google, after the European Commission, its main antitrust enforcer, probed the issue informally since at least 2019. The formal investigation will examine numerous allegedly anticompetitive practices involving how the tech giant brokers ads and shares user data with advertisers across websites and mobile apps. In addition to reviewing issues covered by U.S. states, such as Google favoring its own ad-buying tools, the probe will cover new territory. Continue reading European Union to Conduct Antitrust Investigation of Google

Antitrust Law Authority Lina Khan Appointed Chair of the FTC

In a largely bipartisan vote, the Senate appointed antitrust law expert and Columbia Law School associate professor Lina Khan as chair of the Federal Trade Commission after earlier adding her to the agency. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced Khan’s appointment as FTC chair. At 32 years of age, Khan is the youngest person to ever join and lead the FTC. The legal scholar has also been a consistent critic of Big Tech, so her confirmation is evidence that lawmakers from both political parties agree that it is time to further evaluate the growing dominance of those companies. Continue reading Antitrust Law Authority Lina Khan Appointed Chair of the FTC