Google Changes Ad System to Settle with French Regulators

Google and the French Competition Authority reached an agreement whereby the American tech giant will pay a $268 million (220 € million) fine and change some “unfair” online advertising practices. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire noted the country’s success in “apply[ing] our competition rules to the digital giants who operate in our country.” Google will also stop giving its services preferential treatment and make its advertising system easier to work with other services. Google parent company Alphabet made $41 billion last year. Continue reading Google Changes Ad System to Settle with French Regulators

Esports and VR Games Expected to Benefit from 5G Speeds

Video game competitions played before live and online audiences, known as eSports, has become a booming market, and 5G is poised to ramp up its popularity. Among Big Tech companies, Intel and Ericsson stated that 5G will increase the realism of game imagery and action and potentially allow more players from different venues to compete in a single event. Virtual reality games will also benefit from 5G’s dramatically increased speeds and will permit lighter form-factors than today’s bulky backpacks stuffed with computers. Continue reading Esports and VR Games Expected to Benefit from 5G Speeds

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Will Step Down as CEO on July 5

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will officially leave his position as chief executive on July 5, and Amazon Web Services chief executive Andy Jassy will take over the Amazon CEO position. The departure of Bezos was originally announced in a February earnings report but a specific date was not revealed. Bezos said July 5 is “sentimental” because it was the date Amazon was incorporated in 1994. Bezos will become executive chair, focusing his attention on “new products and early initiatives.” He said he expects Jassy to be “an outstanding leader.” Continue reading Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Will Step Down as CEO on July 5

DC Files Lawsuit Against Amazon Alleging Antitrust Violations

Attorney general for the District of Columbia Karl Racine filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, claiming the tech giant abuses its monopoly power by artificially raising product prices. The suit adds that Amazon blocks vendors from charging lower prices for the same products elsewhere, which results in higher prices for these products on Amazon and other marketplaces. This marks the first time a U.S. government entity has filed a suit against Amazon. Racine stated that, “Amazon has used its dominant position in the online retail market to win at all costs.”

Continue reading DC Files Lawsuit Against Amazon Alleging Antitrust Violations

Florida Passes Legislation to Restrict Social Media Platforms

Florida just passed a new law, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, that makes it illegal for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media platforms to permanently bar political candidates from their sites. The law, which was crafted in response to Facebook’s and Twitter’s ban of former President Donald Trump in January, will impose a $250,000 per day fine. The law also makes it illegal to prevent posts in response to stories on their platforms. The law will likely face a constitutional challenge in the courts. Continue reading Florida Passes Legislation to Restrict Social Media Platforms

Facebook Plans to Expand Live-Stream Pay-Per-View Events

Social giant Facebook wants to transform its live online events into a pay-per-view opportunity for the sports leagues already streaming games on its platform. The company sees the possibility of smaller leagues and even high school sports teams using the model to make money on “virtual” attendance and plans to invest in the live-streaming events that collects money for a “virtual” ticket. The social platform’s plan is similar to the long-standing practice of media networks like HBO charging pay-per-view fees for boxing events. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Expand Live-Stream Pay-Per-View Events

Big Tech Fights Right-to-Repair Legislation at the State Level

Big Tech companies have long regulated who can fix their devices, keeping components in short supply or simply providing them only to authorized repair shops. Now, a group of independent repair shop owners and activists are promoting right-to-repair legislation across the United States. Although such bills were put before state legislators in 27 states in 2021, more than have of them have been dismissed or voted down, often with the help of powerful lobbyists for Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft among others. Continue reading Big Tech Fights Right-to-Repair Legislation at the State Level

Facebook Is Rebuffed in Bid to Block Irish High Court Ruling

Ireland’s High Court dismissed Facebook’s procedural efforts to block a draft decision of the country’s Data Protection Commission to suspend its data flow between the European Union and the United States. The European Union decision was intended to protect the privacy of European users, whose data was being sent to U.S. computer servers, and Facebook contended that the Data Protection Commission, which issued its preliminary decision in August, gave it too little time to respond. The court originally stayed the decision in September. Continue reading Facebook Is Rebuffed in Bid to Block Irish High Court Ruling

Amazon Wins Appeal Against European Commission Decision

A European Union court struck down a 2017 European Commission decision ordering Amazon to pay $300 million (250 million Euros) in taxes, saying that regulators failed to prove the company had an illegal advantage and that its analysis was “incorrect in several respects.” The Commission’s executive vice president Margrethe Vestager has spearheaded a campaign against several Big Tech companies, including Apple and Google. It was her second recent defeat after the General Court overturned a 2016 decision against Apple. Continue reading Amazon Wins Appeal Against European Commission Decision

Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Ban on Trump Accounts

The Facebook and Instagram accounts of Donald Trump will remain indefinitely suspended. Facebook’s independent Oversight Board, launched in October 2020, ruled this morning to uphold the social media giant’s January decision to suspend the accounts of then-President Trump in the wake of the U.S. Capitol insurrection. However, suggesting that an indefinite suspension “was not appropriate,” the Board “insists” that Facebook review the matter within six months, “to determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform.” Continue reading Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Ban on Trump Accounts

China Signals Tighter Big Tech Regulation with Alibaba Fine

The Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) fined e-commerce giant Alibaba $2.8 billion for antitrust violations, a rebuke to its founder, high-profile tycoon Jack Ma. Investigation into whether Alibaba prevented sellers from offering their goods on other e-commerce platforms began in December. The official Communist Party newspaper called monopolies “the great enemy of the market economy” and said regulation was “a kind of love and care.” In 2015, China fined Qualcomm $975 million, also for antitrust violations. Continue reading China Signals Tighter Big Tech Regulation with Alibaba Fine

Justice Thomas Argues Big Tech Be Regulated Like Utilities

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that tech platforms be regulated like utilities, in a concurrence he wrote to a decision to vacate a lower court’s ruling about former President Trump’s Twitter account. “There is a fair argument that some digital platforms are sufficiently akin to common carriers or places of accommodation to be regulated in this manner,” he wrote. Regulating such platforms like utilities could force them to make changes to current moderation policies against hate speech and harassment. Continue reading Justice Thomas Argues Big Tech Be Regulated Like Utilities

Congress Grills Big Tech Executives on Accountability Issues

Prior to a House hearing on social media’s role in extremism and disinformation, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg submitted written testimony on Section 230, suggesting that “platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it.” Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act holds that platforms are not liable for content posted by their users. In a bipartisan effort, lawmakers are pushing for change. “Our nation is drowning in disinformation driven by social media,” suggested Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania). “We will legislate to stop this.” Continue reading Congress Grills Big Tech Executives on Accountability Issues

Amazon Faces Pressure from Workers to Improve Conditions

As Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama prepare to vote this month on whether to unionize, the Big Tech company is getting pressure from its staff worldwide to improve working conditions. President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders have expressed support for unionizing the Alabama warehouse and workers have already cast “thousands of votes.” Meanwhile, Amazon deleted hundreds of thousands of warehouse workers’ profiles from the internal online staff directory, which has some charging the company with union busting. Continue reading Amazon Faces Pressure from Workers to Improve Conditions

Coalition of Privacy, Consumer Groups Attacks Targeted Ads

A coalition of 30+ privacy, consumer and anti-monopoly groups launched this week with one purpose in mind: to stop targeted and behavioral advertising, a practice the coalition describes as “surveillance advertising.” In a letter, the coalition said that, “social media giants are eroding our consensus reality and threatening public safety in service of a toxic, extractive business model.” Further, it said, Big Tech acts “to stoke discrimination, division, and delusion.” Facebook and Google are the dominant digital advertising behemoths. Continue reading Coalition of Privacy, Consumer Groups Attacks Targeted Ads

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