Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

In another win for the FCC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia announced yesterday that it would not reconsider the October ruling that upheld the repeal of net neutrality rules. Requests had been made by 15 states and a collection of technology and advocacy groups to reconsider the earlier ruling. The net neutrality laws were first issued in 2015 to discourage Internet service providers from practices such as blocking or throttling traffic and enabling so-called “fast lanes” through paid prioritization. In December 2017, the FCC voted to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality laws that were largely supported by tech companies and consumer groups.  Continue reading Appeals Court Will Not Rule On the Repeal of Net Neutrality

Dominance of Top Big Tech Companies Continues to Grow

The five Big Tech companies — Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft — are all getting richer, with three of them (Amazon, Apple and Microsoft) nearing $1 trillion in stock value. Alphabet’s revenue skyrocketed past $161 billion last year, and Facebook is over halfway to a $1 trillion value. This concentration of wealth and power is making it increasingly difficult for smaller companies to compete — with little to indicate that this state of affairs will change. The result is a market of haves and have-nots. Continue reading Dominance of Top Big Tech Companies Continues to Grow

Alphabet Reports Robust Growth For YouTube and Cloud

Alphabet revealed Q4 operating income of $9.3 billion, well short of a “consensus projection” of $9.9 billion. FactSet reported that this is the ninth out of 10 quarters that the company missed projections on that metric. Its Q4 revenue, $46.1 billion, also fell short of analyst expectations of $46.9 billion. In after-hours trading, shares dropped 4.7 percent, but were up 11 percent for the year by Monday’s end. The news wasn’t all grim: for the first time, Alphabet revealed growth numbers for YouTube and cloud computing. Continue reading Alphabet Reports Robust Growth For YouTube and Cloud

Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, major tech players such as Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft asked lawmakers for regulations they once fought. Facing antitrust probes and pushback on AI, privacy and encryption among other issues, these companies believe laws are inevitable and want to have a role in creating them. They also fear a patchwork quilt of global laws. Most recently, the Justice Department sparred with Apple over its request for help to unlock the iPhones of the Saudi Arabian naval trainee who killed three people in Florida. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

Big Tech Firms Increase Spending to Influence Lawmakers

Big Tech is now one of the biggest lobbying groups in Washington, D.C. Facebook posted the greatest increase in spending last year, followed by Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. By increasing spending in lobbying, the companies hope to influence privacy legislation, pursue government contracts and rebut charges of unfair competition. Alphabet is the only Big Tech company to reduce its spending for lobbying in 2019, by 44 percent to $11.8 million. It also ended its relationship with lobbyists at six outside firms. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Increase Spending to Influence Lawmakers

CES 2020: Evaluating the Relevance of CDA’s Section 230

Suppose you post your latest travel photos on your website, and later, in the comments section, a drug dealer offers his illegal wares for sale. Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, noted CTA senior vice president of government affairs Michael Petricone, you cannot be prosecuted for drug sales. “Section 230 provides broad but not absolute immunity for Internet service providers for content published by users,” he said. “It’s important for platforms — but it can also encourage toxic online behavior.” Continue reading CES 2020: Evaluating the Relevance of CDA’s Section 230

CES 2020: A Fireside Chat With FTC Chair Joseph Simons

CTA chair/chief executive Gary Shapiro held court with two high-level government leaders: FTC chair Joseph Simons and FCC chair Ajit Pai, in two separate, 30-minute CES sessions. Simons first took the stage and described the Federal Trade Commission’s mission as two-fold: competition and consumer protection. “As we get further into the digital age, privacy concerns are becoming more important,” he said, noting that the FTC Act governing these concerns is 100 years old. “It’s time for Congress to adopt something more modern.” Continue reading CES 2020: A Fireside Chat With FTC Chair Joseph Simons

The Dark Side of Big Tech’s Accumulation of Power, Wealth

Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are valued together at $4+ trillion, with the six surviving founders of four of these companies worth $450 billion, noted Forbes, adding that these valuations have quintupled since 2009. The technology coming out of these companies has also been powerful, from smartphones to ride-sharing. Currently, tech accounts for seven of the top 10 worldwide companies by market cap. This wealth accumulation hasn’t been seen since Standard Oil at the turn of the 20th Century. Continue reading The Dark Side of Big Tech’s Accumulation of Power, Wealth

Big Tech, Academics Launch Deepfake Detection Challenge

A coalition of Big Tech companies and academics have banded together to fight deepfakes. Facebook, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, the Partnership on AI, and academics at Cornell Tech, MIT, University of Oxford, UC Berkeley, University of Maryland College Park and the State University of New York at Albany just launched the Deepfake Detection Challenge announced in September. The problem is serious; deepfakes have swindled companies and could sway public opinion during upcoming elections. Continue reading Big Tech, Academics Launch Deepfake Detection Challenge

Amazon and Facebook to Lease More Space in Manhattan

Less than a year after Amazon pulled out of a deal to build its second headquarters (HQ2) in Manhattan, it inked a lease for 335,000 square feet in the neighborhood to house more than 1,500 employees. Facebook is also reportedly in talks to lease 700,000 square feet in a nearby neighborhood. If that plan goes through, the social media platform, which has other real estate holdings in the city, would become one of its largest corporate tenants, which include JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. Continue reading Amazon and Facebook to Lease More Space in Manhattan

Google Founders Step Down: New Era for Tech Giant Begins

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have stepped down from their executive roles, with Google chief executive Sundar Pichai now heading up both Google and Alphabet. For the past 20 years, Page and Brin personified the company and many of their ideas on how to run an Internet company became standard for other Silicon Valley firms. The two first dialed back their involvement in 2015 when they created Alphabet as a holding company and turned their attention to “other bets,” including life-extending technologies. Continue reading Google Founders Step Down: New Era for Tech Giant Begins

Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Senate Commerce Committee chair Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) proposed draft legislation that he said will support tough protections for consumer data and address the concerns of Democrats. Last week, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), the Committee’s top Democrat, proposed a data privacy law. The idea, Wicker continued, is to create a national privacy law that will override state privacy laws passed by California and other states. He and others believe state laws will create an unwieldy patchwork. Continue reading Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Apple Chief Tim Cook Calls For National Data Regulations

Apple chief executive Tim Cook stated that, because tech companies haven’t self-policed their use of data, “it’s time to have rigorous regulation.” Although he also warned that regulators are too focused on breaking up the Big Tech companies, he admitted that “if one of the companies is found to be a monopoly, and regulators can prove they’ve abused that monopoly power, a breakup might be necessary.” Pew Research reported that about 60 percent of Americans believe their data is being collected on a daily basis. Continue reading Apple Chief Tim Cook Calls For National Data Regulations

Europe’s Antitrust Chief Aims to Keep Pressure on Big Tech

In her five-year tenure, European Commission head of the antitrust division Margrethe Vestager fined Google more than $9 billion and required Apple to pay $14.5 billion in back taxes. But she still has a dark view of the landscape, saying that, “in the last five years, some of the darker sides of digital technologies have become visible.” She has been appointed to an unprecedented second term and has been given expanded power regarding EU digital policy, and has already revealed an agenda that includes making sure that major technology companies pay more taxes in Europe. Continue reading Europe’s Antitrust Chief Aims to Keep Pressure on Big Tech

Alibaba’s Singles Day Reaps $38.3B, Dwarfing Black Friday

On November 11, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba brought in nearly $38.3 billion worth of goods in the 24-hour period known in that country as Singles Day. That surpasses last year’s Singles Day that bought in $30.8 billion. Both figures dwarf the numbers for Black Friday, the massive commercial day-after-Thanksgiving sale in the U.S. Alibaba invented Singles Day ten years ago and, since then, has become a tech giant along the line of Amazon or Alphabet. China also has become wealthier and more digitally connected. Continue reading Alibaba’s Singles Day Reaps $38.3B, Dwarfing Black Friday

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