New Apple Guidelines Permit Payment Outside of App Store

Following an announcement in August that it had settled a class action lawsuit, Apple has introduced new App Store Review Guidelines. Specifically, Apple now permits its registered developers to communicate to customers how they may pay for iOS apps using payment means outside iOS and Apple’s App Store. The guidelines now explain developers may request customer information, including name and email, but must permit customers to provide that information at their discretion. The third change is how to use a new Apple feature called in-app events that Apple says is unrelated to litigation. Continue reading New Apple Guidelines Permit Payment Outside of App Store

Bipartisan Congressional Effort Afoot for Tougher Tech Laws

Riding the momentum of Washington hearings and media criticism, legislators are pushing forward various bills to regulate Big Tech. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) led fellow Senators in pushing legislation that would prevent tech platforms from favoring their own products and services, lending weight to efforts already progressing in the House. House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders have put forward their own proposal to prevent social-media companies from boosting circulation of harmful content. At the forefront are initiatives to limit the collection of personal info from minors, as well as restrictions on marketing to children. Continue reading Bipartisan Congressional Effort Afoot for Tougher Tech Laws

European Parliament Recommends Ban of Facial Recognition

The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution that calls for banning law enforcement’s use of biometric surveillance, including facial recognition. The vote signals what Parliament is willing to adopt as part of the Artificial Intelligence Act being developed by the European Commission. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) advocate for a permanent ban on automated recognition of individuals in public spaces in addition to the use of private facial recognition databases such as those developed by companies including New York-based Clearview AI.  Continue reading European Parliament Recommends Ban of Facial Recognition

Facebook Whistleblower Fuels Interest in Tougher Tech Laws

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s Senate testimony Tuesday appears to have fueled congressional desire to pass new regulations on Big Tech. At a hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online,” the inquiry expanded well beyond teens’ mental health, ranging from obsequious algorithms to Chinese surveillance of Uyghur populations, COVID-19 vaccine disinformation and speech leading to January’s Capitol insurrection. Calling Facebook “morally bankrupt,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said “Big Tech is facing its Big Tobacco moment,” and urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify. Continue reading Facebook Whistleblower Fuels Interest in Tougher Tech Laws

Poll: U.S. Voters Favor Feds Regulating the Power of Big Tech

A poll conducted by the bipartisan Future of Tech Commission indicates that 80 percent of registered U.S. voters would like to see the federal government take a more aggressive approach to regulating tech giants. The poll found that respondents agreed the government “needs to do everything it can to curb the influence of Big Tech companies that have grown too powerful and now use our data to reach too far into our lives.” In addition, 84 percent of voters say they are “very nervous” about the effect social media has on children. The Commission hopes the findings will help persuade policymakers to regulate the power of Internet platforms. Continue reading Poll: U.S. Voters Favor Feds Regulating the Power of Big Tech

European Union Members Are Concerned Over GDPR Delays

European Union nations are voicing discontent over delays in enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) implemented in May 2018. Earlier this month Ireland announced a $266 million fine against WhatsApp, after haggling to boost the original sanction of up to $59 million by the Irish Data Protection Commission (WhatsApp parent Facebook has European headquarters in Ireland). The situation has prompted calls to revise how the 27 EU member countries participate in overlapping cases, with expanded pan-EU rules also under consideration. Continue reading European Union Members Are Concerned Over GDPR Delays

Apple Unveils iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 at Annual Event

In the midst of troubling press attention as the company faces antitrust claims and ongoing criticism of its App Store business model, Apple unveiled its iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 during a streaming event yesterday. Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared live on a virtual set rather than the traditional in-person stage as a precaution during COVID-19. Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro features a new camera system that promises a new cinematic mode, improved low-light capabilities and an updated ultra-wide lens. The Apple Watch 7, touting a revamped look, includes new features such as a larger screen, softer corners, more support for e-bikes and fall detection for cycling. Continue reading Apple Unveils iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 at Annual Event

Judge Loosens Apple Stranglehold on App Developer Profits

Apple’s notoriously strict terms of doing business in its App Store appear to be loosening. A federal judge has ordered the company to allow developers to offer customers alternative payment methods after ruling that all payments go through Apple violate California’s unfair competition laws. Apple is ordered to within 90 days begin allowing developers to include in their apps payment links to processors other than the App Store. Developers now see a path to avoid handing Apple commissions of up to 30 percent for handling sales through the $100 billion online market.  Continue reading Judge Loosens Apple Stranglehold on App Developer Profits

FTC Reveals Comscore Data Detailing Facebook Dominance

The Federal Trade Commission released Comscore figures showing Facebook’s marketplace dominance. From September 2012 through December 2020, the network generated 92 percent of the monthly time U.S. users spent on social media. In contrast, the combined market shares of Snap, Google+, MeWe and Friendster never exceeded 18 percent in any month during that time frame. A federal judge dismissed the case in June noting that the FTC did not offer details of its monopoly claim; these findings are now part of the FTC’s lawsuit. Continue reading FTC Reveals Comscore Data Detailing Facebook Dominance

Apple Allows Reader Apps to Use Outside Payment Systems

After an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), Apple agreed to let Netflix, Spotify and some other companies use payment methods outside Apple’s App Store when users sign up for subscriptions. Analysts dub the move a “strategic retreat” from what has been a huge source of revenue for Apple. During Epic Games’ lawsuit against the tech giant, lawyers revealed that 81 percent of the App Store’s 2016 revenue came from games, 3 percent from music and 4 percent from other forms of entertainment. Continue reading Apple Allows Reader Apps to Use Outside Payment Systems

Western Digital and Kioxia Merger Could Impact Chip Market

California-based data technology company Western Digital is purportedly in “advanced merger talks” with Japan’s computer memory firm Kioxia Holdings, according to sources who added that a deal could be inked as soon as mid-September. Western Digital’s shares rose 8 percent in reaction to the Wednesday news and continued to rise on Thursday. Sources said Western Digital would complete the deal with stock and that its chief executive David Goeckeler would run the combined company. According to Barron’s, the deal would be valued at about $20 billion. Continue reading Western Digital and Kioxia Merger Could Impact Chip Market

Senate Measure Could Impact Developers, App Store Models

The U.S. Senate introduced the Open App Markets Act to give consumers more control over their devices; stop app stores from ‘disadvantaging’ developers and allow them to inform consumers about lower prices and offer competitive pricing; improve the ability of startup apps, third-party app stores and payment services to compete; require devices to allow ‘sideloading’ of apps; and continue to protect privacy, security and safety of consumers. If voted into law, the Act could end Apple and Google’s monopoly over the app ecosystem. Continue reading Senate Measure Could Impact Developers, App Store Models

Facebook Posts Strong Earnings, Plans Its Metaverse Future

In Q2 2021, social giant Facebook’s profit doubled from a year earlier to $10.39 billion and revenue rose 56 percent to $29.08 billion, both numbers beating Wall Street expectations. Shares fell 3+ percent in after-hours trading, however, when Facebook predicted that revenue growth will slow for the rest of the year. Through the end of Q2, its stock has grown 22 percent. The company also said that Apple’s privacy changes in the new iOS will have a stronger impact in the current quarter as more users update their iOS devices. Meanwhile, Facebook continues to eye its metaverse future. Continue reading Facebook Posts Strong Earnings, Plans Its Metaverse Future

Google Reports Its Highest Quarter Ever for Sales and Profits

In Q2 2021, Google recorded its highest quarter ever for sales and profits: revenue of $61.88 billion, up 62 percent year-over-year; profit that more than doubled to $18.53 billion; advertising sales of $50.44 billion, a 69 percent surge, and YouTube ad business reaching $7 billion, up 84 percent from a year earlier. The numbers, which exceeded Wall Street expectations, were driven by e-commerce, streaming video and other online business and entertainment activities that surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, driving online advertising. Continue reading Google Reports Its Highest Quarter Ever for Sales and Profits

Biden Assembles a Tough Antitrust Team to Rein In Big Tech

President Biden, who named Big Tech critic Jonathan Kanter to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division last week, has assembled a strong antitrust team to address concerns about the dominant strength and influence of major tech companies across industries including pharmaceuticals, agriculture, healthcare, commerce and finance. If confirmed by the Senate, Kanter will join the Federal Trade Commission’s chairperson Lina Khan, who is known for her work in antitrust and competition law, and Tim Wu, a long-time advocate of breaking up Big Tech who is now Biden’s special assistant for technology and competition policy. Continue reading Biden Assembles a Tough Antitrust Team to Rein In Big Tech