New Government Task Force Zeroes in on Tech Regulation

In the United States, the debate continues about whether control of data is an antitrust or consumer protection issue — or both. Recent indicators show that the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and state regulators are taking action. The FTC’s new Technology Task Force, made up of agency lawyers in coordination with Consumer Protection Bureau and agency technologists, will examine technology-related matters including prospective and consummated technology mergers. Continue reading New Government Task Force Zeroes in on Tech Regulation

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

Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

Spotify filed a complaint with European regulators accusing Apple of violating antitrust laws by crushing companies that compete with its services, including Apple Music. Apple charges a fee of up to 30 percent on anything sold in its App Store. Spotify reported to the European Commission that Apple’s policies are a “tax” that violate competition laws, and chief executive Daniel Ek complained that Apple gives itself “an unfair advantage at every turn.” It is uncertain if the complaint will lead to a formal EC investigation. Continue reading Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

The U.K. government released a 150-page report stressing that the country needs to update its antitrust policies to deal with big technology companies. The report, which was ordered by the U.K.’s top treasury official, Exchequer chancellor Philip Hammond, states that the U.K. should implement tighter rules on acquisition in the tech sector to make it easier for new competitors to arise. The European Union and U.S. presidential hopefuls Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar have expressed similar points of view. Continue reading U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

Elizabeth Warren Looks to Break Up Major Tech Companies

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) aims to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for the 2020 U.S. presidential election, but she just alienated Silicon Valley when she proposed to break up tech companies that generate more than $25 billion in online revenue. Her rationale is that companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have become too big and too powerful, squashing small businesses and innovation, and more focused on their financial well-being than “the broader interests of the American people.” Continue reading Elizabeth Warren Looks to Break Up Major Tech Companies

Department of Justice Revisits 1941 Music-Licensing Rules

The Department of Justice will soon ask for public input on the status of two legal agreements that have been the foundation of music licensing since 1941, said sources. Advocates of overhauling the rules said that artists are harmed, earning less in the digital age. Those who believe the regulations should stay in place counter that the rules have created a stable marketplace. The review of these music licensing rules comes as the DOJ revisits consent decrees written decades ago for several different industries. Continue reading Department of Justice Revisits 1941 Music-Licensing Rules

FTC Targets Anti-Competitive Violations, Fake Amazon Posts

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will create a task force to take a broad look at potential antitrust violations in the tech industry, including re-examining already-approved mergers — possibly undoing deals deemed to have an anti-competitive impact today. At the same time, the FTC brought its first case against using fake ads to sell online products, settling with the New York City-based Cure Encapsulations and its owner for paying for fake ads about a weight loss product to be posted as Amazon reviews. Continue reading FTC Targets Anti-Competitive Violations, Fake Amazon Posts

German Antitrust Ruling Restrains Facebook Data Collection

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the country’s competition authority, issued an antitrust argument to restrict Facebook’s data collection. Stating that Facebook currently provides users with a stark choice between allowing the company to collect unlimited data or not using the site, the Federal Cartel Office stated that Facebook must allow users to refuse the company’s bid to collect their data and automatically merge it with data from Instagram, WhatsApp and non-Facebook sites. The decision impacts 32 million German users. Continue reading German Antitrust Ruling Restrains Facebook Data Collection

Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to integrate the company’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. According to those familiar with the plan, the three services will continue operating as standalone apps, but their tech infrastructure will be stitched together. For the first time, the messaging networks’ 2.6 billion global users will be able to communicate across platforms. The initiative is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2020. It will require teams to significantly reconfigure functionality of all three services and will include new end-to-end encryption. Continue reading Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facing EU Copyright Law, Google May Remove News Service

In light of the fact that the European Union’s Copyright Directive may soon give publishers the right to demand payment when portions of their articles appear in news search results, Google is considering ceasing its Google News service in Europe. Although the law is not yet finalized, Google public policy manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Jennifer Bernal stated that the company could reluctantly quit Europe after it has the chance to do a close examination of the proposed law’s details. Continue reading Facing EU Copyright Law, Google May Remove News Service

Google Fined 50 Million Euros Under EU’s New Privacy Laws

Google and Facebook had a rough 2018 regarding data privacy, but the advertisers haven’t abandoned the two tech giants and their profits continue to soar. This year may be even tougher as concern about privacy grows. In fact, French regulators levied a 50 million Euro (about $57 million) fine on Google, for not clearly disclosing how data collected across its sites are used to personalize ads. Experts believe the behavior of big tech companies will be a “major topic” at the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Continue reading Google Fined 50 Million Euros Under EU’s New Privacy Laws

German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

A regional court in Munich recently ruled that Amazon’s click-to-purchase Dash buttons for Prime members violate German consumer protection legislation. Based on the contention that the thumb-sized, adhesive Dash buttons do not always provide the latest pricing information, the court ordered Amazon to halt taking purchase orders through the Wi-Fi-connected devices. The decision follows a case brought against Amazon by a German consumer protection watchdog group that says it took action after fielding complaints by consumers. Germany is Amazon’s second largest market. Continue reading German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

On January 1, 2019, the French government will begin to tax digital companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, even as other members of the European Union have balked at imposing an EU-wide tax. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire declared that, as the other EU countries debate, his country will move forward alone, estimating that the total tax bill will come to 500 million Euros ($568 million), which will help defray 10 billion Euros in emergency spending announced by President Emmanuel Macron. Continue reading France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

Facebook Deals With Criticism, Marketers Mull Over Options

In a conference call with reporters, Facebook chief executive/chair Mark Zuckerberg defended his company against charges that he and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg hid problems regarding Russian interference and other issues. Politicians have discussed opening a federal investigation into possible campaign finance violations and creating competition laws to curb the company, while shareholders have called for Zuckerberg’s ouster and activists have complained to the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Facebook Deals With Criticism, Marketers Mull Over Options

State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

In a meeting of nine state officials and representatives of five other states led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the market dominance and privacy practices of large tech companies were discussed, as well as the possibility of a joint investigation of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and others. Attorney General Doug Peterson (R-Nebraska) said his state is examining just such a multi-state inquiry into antitrust and consumer protection issues. Potential political bias, a previously raised topic, was barely touched. Continue reading State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players