Biden Appointing Antitrust Experts to Key Administrative Posts

President Joe Biden is expected to nominate Columbia University law professor Lina Khan, a leader of the Big Tech antitrust movement, for an open seat on the Federal Trade Commission, where she would have power to enforce existing regulations. Biden appointed another Columbia law professor, Tim Wu to the National Economic Council (NEC) as a special assistant for technology and competition policy. Big Tech antitrust wasn’t a signature focus of Biden’s presidential campaign, but the appointments seem to signal his intentions. Continue reading Biden Appointing Antitrust Experts to Key Administrative Posts

Arizona Bill Curbing Apple, Google App Stores Passes House

Last week, the Arizona House of Representatives voted 31-29 to pass HB 2005, requiring app stores to allow app developers to use their own payment processing systems. Apple and Google, which have banned developers from doing so, have reaped 15-30 percent from every purchase made from an app in their stores. The bill’s House passage is considered a victory for the non-profit Coalition for App Fairness (CAF). To become law, the Arizona Senate has to approve the proposed legislation. Arizona governor Doug Ducey still has the option to veto it. Continue reading Arizona Bill Curbing Apple, Google App Stores Passes House

Nvidia Acquisition of Arm Faces FTC Probe, Big Tech Critics

As Nvidia moves to close its $40 billion deal to acquire Arm Holdings, tech companies Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm are saying the deal will harm competition and are asking for regulatory intervention. The UK-based Arm, which licenses its chip technology to Amazon, Apple, Huawei Technologies, Intel and Samsung Electronics among others, is known as the Switzerland in the semiconductor industry because it licenses its technology to companies rather than competes with them. Critics fear that Nvidia would change this policy or raise the cost. Continue reading Nvidia Acquisition of Arm Faces FTC Probe, Big Tech Critics

Senator Klobuchar Calls for Tough New Antitrust Legislation

As incoming head of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) renewed her call to legislate major changes to U.S. trust laws. Specifically, the legislation would prevent companies that dominate in a sector from purchasing other companies unless they can prove the deals don’t “create an appreciable risk of materially lessening competition.” Klobuchar suggested such changes in Congress’ previous session and Republicans largely rebuffed them. Democrat control of the Senate could improve the odds of passage. Continue reading Senator Klobuchar Calls for Tough New Antitrust Legislation

Facebook Parries Apple’s Privacy Policy with Its Own Prompt

In response to Apple’s changes that require users’ consent to track their behavior, Facebook — which claims the privacy change will make targeted advertising too difficult — has responded with its own solution. The social media company plans to introduce an in-app prompt that asks users to give permission to use data collected from apps and third-party websites and provides information on how the data is used for personalized ads. That screen will appear with the Apple prompt detailing its new privacy policy. Continue reading Facebook Parries Apple’s Privacy Policy with Its Own Prompt

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos is stepping down from the role he has held since he started the Big Tech company 26 years ago and will assume the role of executive chairman. Amazon Web Services head Andy Jassy will replace Bezos as Amazon’s new chief executive. Bezos hands over the reins during a time in which COVID-19 has helped the company achieve record-breaking sales, while it also faces regulatory and legal investigations. Personally, he vies with Tesla chief executive Elon Musk as the world’s wealthiest person. Continue reading Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon Exceeds $100 Billion in Quarterly Sales for First Time

Amazon’s robust holiday shopping quarter garnered $125.5 billion in sales and net income of $7.2 billion, the first time the company reached $100+ billion in quarterly revenue, and only days after Apple achieved the same milestone. Amazon amped up sales when it moved its two-day Prime Day shopping event from summer to October. The company’s overall 2020 sales hit $386.1 billion, a 38-percent year-over-year jump. According to analysts, e-commerce grew about 50 percent during the last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading Amazon Exceeds $100 Billion in Quarterly Sales for First Time

Google Breaks Revenue Records, Boosts Cloud Investments

Due largely to robust online holiday shopping, Google’s parent company Alphabet reached a record-breaking $56.9 billion in revenue for Q4, up from $43.2 billion in the same quarter last year. The numbers represent an ongoing recovery in ad spending, which was hard hit in early 2020. FactSet reports that analysts predicted the company would post $52.7 billion in revenue, including $42.3 billion from advertising. Chief financial officer Ruth Porat said Google Search and YouTube led the positive performance numbers. Continue reading Google Breaks Revenue Records, Boosts Cloud Investments

Bipartisan Efforts Underway to Regulate Big Tech Companies

Senator Amy Klobuchar, once an avid supporter of Big Tech companies and now Senate antitrust panel leader, is expected to play a role in bipartisan efforts to impose regulations on those companies’ market power and data privacy policies. Facebook and Google face federal and state allegations of anticompetitive behavior and Amazon and Apple are under investigation for antitrust violations. President Biden and others in his administration have vowed to hold Big Tech accountable for users’ speech on their sites. Continue reading Bipartisan Efforts Underway to Regulate Big Tech Companies

Google Tests New Technology to Replace Third-Party Cookies

Google is replacing third-party cookies on its Chrome web browser with a more privacy-compliant option, creating an uproar among advertisers and others that use them to track consumers’ browsing across websites. Google stated it has had positive test results for its technology that analyzes browsing habits without sending sensitive data to central servers. In Q2 of this year, the company is on track for “open outside testing of ad buys” using the new technology. Google previously said it would phase out cookies in 2022. Continue reading Google Tests New Technology to Replace Third-Party Cookies

Chinese Regulators Rein in Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has long been celebrated in China for his successful entrepreneurship that has made him that country’s richest individual. More recently, however, his troubles with the Chinese government led that country’s media to dub him an “evil capitalist” and “bloodsucking ghost.” Last week, China opened an antitrust probe into Alibaba and is investigating Ant Group, a fintech company Ma spun out of Alibaba. After nixing that company’s IPO, China is now telling Ma to fix its many perceived flaws. Continue reading Chinese Regulators Rein in Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group

Google Files First Formal Counter to Justice Department Suit

Google issued its first formal rejoinder to the Justice Department’s charges that the company has used its position, including deals with other Big Tech companies, to maintain its dominance in online search. Google denies, in a sentence-by-sentence rebuttal, charges of violating antitrust laws or engaging in anticompetitive behavior. Evidence was uncovered that Google and Facebook agreed to “cooperate and assist” one another should they be investigated for working together on online advertising. Continue reading Google Files First Formal Counter to Justice Department Suit

State Attorneys General File Another Lawsuit Against Google

Google is now facing a third antitrust suit. Two months after the Justice Department, joined by 46 state attorneys general, filed suits charging anticompetitive behavior, and only one day after 10 other state attorneys general accused the company of using its dominance to control advertising and overcharge publishers, another suit has landed. This suit, made up of a bipartisan group of 30 AGs, accuses the Big Tech giant of illegally manipulating search results to push competitors out of the way. Continue reading State Attorneys General File Another Lawsuit Against Google

States Focus on Ad Tech in Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, 10 state attorneys general charged Google with abusing its dominance by overcharging publishers for ads and elbowing out rivals. The lawsuit also contends that Google struck a deal with Facebook to limit the latter’s efforts to compete for ads. Google claimed the suit is “baseless” and said that it intends to fight it. Another group of states is expected to file a case against Google. This lawsuit is the first to focus on tools that connect buyers and publishers of ad space. Continue reading States Focus on Ad Tech in Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

Facing a bipartisan push from Congress to change Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a liability shield against lawsuits for Internet platforms, tech companies have said they are now ready to discuss it. For 20+ years, Internet platforms have adamantly defended Section 230 but, in recent weeks, both Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey have voiced support for “updating” and/or “expanding” the law. Democrats and Republicans have threatened to repeal Section 230. Continue reading Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230