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

California Attorney General Sues Facebook For Documents

California attorney general Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court to obtain Facebook documents and email correspondence between chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Becerra revealed that, over an 18-month period, Facebook has “ignored or resisted” his dozens of requests for these documents. Meanwhile, internal Facebook documents recently made public revealed the company was more interested in defeating rivals than improving customer privacy. Continue reading California Attorney General Sues Facebook For Documents

Google $2.1B Acquisition of Fitbit to Face Antitrust Scrutiny

Google is buying wearable fitness-tracking company Fitbit for $2.1 billion. But the deal already faces antitrust scrutiny as well as concern about the massive amount of personal private health data that Google will gain with the purchase. Google stated — and Fitbit chief executive James Park reiterated — that health data would not be used for Google’s advertising business, but that might not be enough for regulators. The 12-year old Fitbit pioneered wearables before the advent of smartwatches. Continue reading Google $2.1B Acquisition of Fitbit to Face Antitrust Scrutiny

House Hearings Consider Balance of Competition, Privacy

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings that included testimony about how tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have collected significant quantities of data that give them a dominant market power that endangers consumer privacy. House Republicans, however, noted that strong data protection regulations in Europe, as well as other privacy regulations, could hurt competition among these companies. The hearing is the latest effort in the House’s antitrust investigation into digital giants. Continue reading House Hearings Consider Balance of Competition, Privacy

Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

Democrats and Republicans have come together to examine big tech companies. Last Friday, a bipartisan group of attorneys general in eight states and the District of Columbia began an antitrust probe of Facebook, and, on Monday, another such group announced its intention to investigate Google. Sources said attorney general Ken Paxton (R-Texas) is leading the Google investigation. The Federal Trade Commission, Justice Department, and House and Senate committees are also scrutinizing the tech companies. Continue reading Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Under pressure from legislators and others, Facebook has taken steps to protect itself. According to sources, the company ceased talks to buy video-focused social network Houseparty to forestall increased antitrust concerns. In response to calls to break up Facebook, the company took internal measures to make that more difficult to do by reorganizing its departments and rebranding Instagram and WhatsApp. Elsewhere, the European Union is expected to issue decisions by the end of the year related to privacy issues involving Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

Republican and Democratic lawmakers excoriated tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google this week on Capitol Hill. Chief among the critics were Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who oversees the Constitution subcommittee, and Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) who leads an antitrust subcommittee. Although the companies acknowledged the upheaval their technology has created in many industries, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded that, “every time Americans trust you, they seem to get burned.” Continue reading Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

European regulators yesterday fined tech giant Google 1.5 billion euros (about $1.7 billion U.S.) for violating antitrust rules in the online ad market. This marks the European Union’s third fine against Google since 2017. As part of its larger efforts to better regulate global technology powerhouses, EU authorities took action based on their contention that Google has been imposing unfair terms on those companies in Europe that use the Google search feature on their websites. In the U.S., regulators are also taking a closer look at business models and mergers involving big tech companies. Continue reading EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

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