Department of Justice Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

As anticipated, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet’s Google, accusing the company of “unlawfully maintaining monopolies” involving its search and related advertising services. The DOJ is also questioning the terms of Google’s Android operating system, which the Department believes essentially forces phone makers to pre-load Google apps and set Google Search as a default feature. The concern is that the practice unfairly hinders competition and enables Google to generate significant revenue from its search-related advertising business. Continue reading Department of Justice Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

TikTok Takes Government to Court Over Potential Shutdown

TikTok’s lawyers filed suit with U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols to prevent the federal government from imposing a shutdown of operations on November 12, when companies will be banned from providing Internet hosting to TikTok. An attorney stated that, “competitors have already taken advantage of the government’s highly-publicized intention to shut down the app to entice TikTok creators and users to switch platforms.” Cloud platform provider Fastly saw its shares plummet after ByteDance, owner of TikTok, spent less than predicted in Q3. Continue reading TikTok Takes Government to Court Over Potential Shutdown

New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

On the heels of a cyberattack on Twitter this summer, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) called for a dedicated regulator to oversee big social media platforms. In a 37-page report, the department described the July 15 attack in which accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others were hacked and used to promote a cryptocurrency scam. Three people have since been charged with posing as employees to launch that attack, which relied on relatively simple tactics. Continue reading New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

Zoom Debuts End-to-End Encryption for Free User Accounts

At its annual Zoomtopia event, Zoom announced the debut of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for free accounts in four stages. The first phase, which launches next week, will be a 30-day technical preview to gather feedback. Chief executive Eric Yuan stated the company will improve its integration of “office chatroom products” from Slack Technologies and Microsoft and also introduced its Zapps platform that allows users to bring third-party apps into video calls and a new integrated platform for classes and events. Continue reading Zoom Debuts End-to-End Encryption for Free User Accounts

Judge Rules That Apple Can Block ‘Fortnite’ From App Store

In the latest update to the ongoing battle between Apple and Epic Games, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California ruled that Apple does not have to reinstate Epic’s game “Fortnite” in its App Store. Epic Games, to avoid Apple’s 30 percent commission on apps sold in its store, offered its users a way to download the game on its own site. In retaliation, Apple banned “Fortnite” from the App Store. Gonzalez Rogers said Apple could continue to ban “Fortnite” because Epic violated its contract. Continue reading Judge Rules That Apple Can Block ‘Fortnite’ From App Store

Microsoft Empowers Developers with 10 App Store Principles

Unlike Apple, which continues to keep tight control of its App Store, Microsoft wants to give developers more control. The company’s deputy general counsel Rima Alaily revealed 10 principles for the Microsoft Store. They include letting developers sell different services on their apps and websites and giving them and users access to third-party app stores. Microsoft, whose Store has always been more open, said the principles are aimed to “promote choice, ensure fairness and promote innovation.” Continue reading Microsoft Empowers Developers with 10 App Store Principles

Slack Debuts Prototype Video Stories, Anytime Audio Tools

Slack, during its annual conference Slack Frontiers, rolled out several new features, including two prototype experiments: Video Stories, described as asynchronous video clips the user can post in a channel or DM, and Anytime Audio, an always-available audio feed that can be toggled on or off in any channel. In addition, the company introduced Slack Connect Direct Messages and Verified Organizations. Video Stories, similar to Stories on Instagram and Snapchat, are a way to quickly share a team message or status update. Continue reading Slack Debuts Prototype Video Stories, Anytime Audio Tools

Triller Rolls Out the Red Carpet to Attract TikTok Influencers

Small social video app Triller saw an opportunity to grow in July when news of a potential TikTok ban was brewing. Triller’s first “get” was the Sway Boys, a group of TikTok influencers who had been mulling over the idea of starting their own app but were convinced to join Triller by its majority owner, entertainment executive Ryan Kavanaugh. He offered them a juicy deal: In exchange for joining, he told them, he’d give them equity and roles within Triller. And they could still post on TikTok, just less frequently. Continue reading Triller Rolls Out the Red Carpet to Attract TikTok Influencers

Facebook Opposes Apple Plan to Limit Targeted Advertising

Apple plans to limit the ability of Facebook and other companies to target ads via its identifier for advertisers (IDFA) by giving iPhone users the option to block tracking when opening an app. Meant to protect users’ privacy, the change was originally slated to be part of iOS 14, introduced last month. But Apple postponed the change until 2021 “to give developers time to make necessary changes.” In response, Facebook chief revenue officer David Fischer stated that the change will “hurt developers and businesses the most.” Continue reading Facebook Opposes Apple Plan to Limit Targeted Advertising

Big Tech Faces Scrutiny by Regulators in the U.S and Abroad

The House Antitrust Subcommittee is about to release a report of its 15-month investigation of Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. The lawmakers gathered 1+ million documents from the companies in question and their rivals. The subcommittee, chaired by Congressman David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), also met with the four companies’ chief executives. Meanwhile, the European Union plans to ban tech companies from “preferencing” their own services and apps, and China is planning its own antitrust investigation of Google. Continue reading Big Tech Faces Scrutiny by Regulators in the U.S and Abroad

Federal Government Probes Foreign Investments in U.S. Tech

As part of ongoing security concerns focused on technology, the Trump administration is now re-examining investments in U.S. tech startups by Chinese and other foreign groups, even investments that are years old. Heading the investigation is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) which, after gathering information, can decide whether to probe specific deals more deeply and even demand that the foreign investor divest. The probe is based on the government’s belief that the United States did not sufficiently scrutinize these investments from China and other countries. Continue reading Federal Government Probes Foreign Investments in U.S. Tech

YouTube Users Turn to Established and Indie News Channels

In light of the fact that 26 percent of Americans say they get news on YouTube, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey in January of 12,638 U.S. adults who consumed news on YouTube, asking about their experiences. The Pew study analyzed the news channels consumers watched and the content of videos on these channels, relying on a subset of videos published in December 2019. The study found a news environment on YouTube in which established news organizations and indie news channels “thrive side by side.”

Continue reading YouTube Users Turn to Established and Indie News Channels

App Developers Team to Oppose Apple, Google Store Rules

Thirteen app developers including Basecamp, Epic, Match Group and Spotify formed the nonprofit Coalition for App Fairness to oppose some of the policies of Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store. Coalition spokeswoman Sarah Maxwell said the impetus for forming the group was to recognize “we’re not alone in this, and maybe what we should do is advocate on behalf of everybody.” Apple and Google have been scrutinized by regulators in the U.S. and the European Union; the Justice Department is expected to file an antitrust suit against Google shortly.

Continue reading App Developers Team to Oppose Apple, Google Store Rules

Apple Under Increasing Pressure to Change App Store Fees

Apple’s 30 percent commission on digital goods and services in its App Store has raised the ire of numerous companies, including Netflix and Spotify, which have formed a coalition to promote legal and regulatory changes for app marketplaces. Apple and Epic Games are battling the issue in court, and Spotify filed an antitrust suit in Europe last year, with claims that it unfairly harms competitors. Apple is, however, giving a brief COVID-19-related reprieve on fees to some companies selling virtual experiences. Continue reading Apple Under Increasing Pressure to Change App Store Fees

Pinterest Debuts Story Pins, Other Tools Aimed at Influencers

Pinterest is debuting two features intended for lifestyle influencers: Story Pins, which is similar to the increasingly popular stories feature available on Snapchat, Instagram and other platforms; and “creator profiles,” which allow influencers to show off their work. For Story Pins, which is already available to a select group of influencers, the creator can post photos and vertical videos with overlaid text and voice-over narration but doesn’t need to link to an outside website. Story Pins are not ephemeral, and followers can comment and react to them. Creator Profiles highlight projects via Story Pins. Continue reading Pinterest Debuts Story Pins, Other Tools Aimed at Influencers

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