Department of Justice Launches a Cryptocurrency Crime Unit

The U.S. Department of Justice has formed the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) to investigate the use of cryptocurrency for criminal purposes. The new unit will examine cases involving virtual currency exchanges and money laundering. Members will also investigate so-called “mixing and tumbling” services, which involve charging a fee to send cryptocurrency to an address while obscuring the source of funds. The group, which include experts from the offices of U.S. Attorneys, will also work on tracing and recovery of assets lost to fraud, hacking or ransomware extortion. Continue reading Department of Justice Launches a Cryptocurrency Crime Unit

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

Some DOJ Lawyers Warn of a ‘Rush’ to Bring Google Lawsuit

The Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr plan to bring an antitrust lawsuit against Google as soon as this summer, but not all of the DOJ staffers are happy with what they say is an “aggressive timeline.” Critics believe that the case isn’t ready for trial and that they need more time to determine if the “millions of pages of documents” contain enough evidence to win the case. But Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen stated that the case is “a major priority” and the DOJ is “going full-tilt.”

Continue reading Some DOJ Lawyers Warn of a ‘Rush’ to Bring Google Lawsuit

Qualcomm Faces Bright 5G Future After Appeals Court Ruling

Qualcomm reached the end of a trying five-year period, battered by antitrust allegations, U.S.-China trade tensions, an activist shareholder and Broadcom’s hostile takeover attempt among other obstacles. This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated a 2019 ruling by a federal judge that Qualcomm had overcharged phone makers for its patents and abused its monopoly position. Qualcomm chief executive Steve Mollenkopf is now predicting sales of between 175 million and 225 million 5G devices this year. Continue reading Qualcomm Faces Bright 5G Future After Appeals Court Ruling

Facebook’s Purchase of Giphy to Provide Valuable User Data

Facebook has acquired the GIF platform Giphy for $400 million. Giphy’s 100+ million active daily users send over 1 billion GIFs a day. Facebook stated that Giphy’s content database will be integrated into its apps including Instagram, although it didn’t state a timeframe. Since every social app offers at least some GIF integration, including many that rely on a GIF keyboard and Giphy’s database, Facebook’s purchase is both a competitive edge and another way to harvest the kind of data that attracts advertisers. Continue reading Facebook’s Purchase of Giphy to Provide Valuable User Data

U.S. Moves to Hinder China Telecom and Links to Hong Kong

The Trump administration wants to revoke licenses used by China Telecom’s U.S. subsidiary to act as a common carrier, connecting domestic and international networks. The U.S. Department of Justice, leading the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, requested that the FCC permanently rescind these licenses. The administration stated that China’s technology interests are a threat to U.S. security. Citing the same concerns, U.S. gave Google permission to open a high-speed Internet link to Taiwan but not Hong Kong. Continue reading U.S. Moves to Hinder China Telecom and Links to Hong Kong

Report: Suspected Chinese Hackers Target Global Telecoms

Hackers likely associated with the Chinese government broke into at least 10 global telecom carriers, stealing call logs, users’ locations and text-messaging records, according to a report from Boston-based Cybereason. The cybersecurity firm spent 2018 scrutinizing a multi-year, ongoing campaign, suspected to be directed by China and aimed at 20 military officials, spies, law enforcement and dissidents in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Cybereason believes the recent hacks point to Chinese group APT10. Continue reading Report: Suspected Chinese Hackers Target Global Telecoms

Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

The federal government is listening to complaints about how the major digital platforms exploit their size and the paucity of regulations — and companies are lining up to tell their tales of woe. Yelp public policy chief Luther Lowe says firms that once quietly grumbled are now talking to the Department of Justice about anti-competitive behavior by the big tech companies, all of which vigorously deny the accusations. Two Instagram executives stated that, although some would like to break up social giant Facebook, that won’t help the problem. Continue reading Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

Tech Companies Have Long Prepared for Antitrust Scrutiny

Apple, Facebook and Google have been preparing for announcements from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that leading U.S. tech companies were going to be closely scrutinized for evidence of antitrust behavior. The news has sent shares roller-coasting but the three companies’ lawyers are, said sources, taking a “wait-and-see” approach. While Apple has been battling antitrust battles for years and Google has already faced antitrust investigations in the U.S. and Europe, some experts believe Facebook is not as prepared for the coming scrutiny. Continue reading Tech Companies Have Long Prepared for Antitrust Scrutiny

Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple abruptly reversed a decision made a year ago to remove iPhone apps that use one of two technologies to allow parents to control their children’s use of Apple devices. The company revealed its move to allow parental controls in a short blog post on its website. The reversal comes on the heels of news that the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are scrutinizing Silicon Valley tech companies for antitrust behavior. App developers filed a lawsuit in California accusing Apple of monopolizing app distribution. Continue reading Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Government Expected to Take a Closer Look at Tech Giants

U.S. tech giants are expected to become targets of in-depth antitrust investigations to determine if any companies have become too large and may be stifling competition. According to sources, federal agencies have agreed to distribute the investigative responsibilities. The Justice Department reportedly has authority over looking into Apple and Google, while the Federal Trade Commission will have oversight of Amazon and Facebook. In addition, the House Judiciary Committee plans to examine competition in digital markets and the growing power of the tech industry. Continue reading Government Expected to Take a Closer Look at Tech Giants

WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

Hackers have reportedly been injecting Israeli spyware onto smartphones via the popular Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp. The surveillance software, named Pegasus, was developed by Israeli firm NSO Group and can access an iPhone with a single missed voice call on WhatsApp. NSO claims that it carefully vets its customers; the company’s software is intended for government agencies to combat crime and terrorism. While it is currently unknown how many users may have been affected at this point (the problem was first discovered in early May), WhatsApp says it has created a patch to address the vulnerability. Continue reading WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

DOJ Warns Academy New Netflix Rules Could Violate Laws

As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences mulls over rule changes that would limit the eligibility of content from Netflix and other streaming services, the U.S. Department of Justice weighed in with a warning that doing so could violate competition law and raise antitrust issues. Academy board member Steven Spielberg reportedly has encouraged changes to Oscar eligibility rules, prompting the DOJ’s response. At CinemaCon, movie theater owners are also discussing how Netflix is changing the landscape. Continue reading DOJ Warns Academy New Netflix Rules Could Violate Laws

New Government Task Force Zeroes in on Tech Regulation

In the United States, the debate continues about whether control of data is an antitrust or consumer protection issue — or both. Recent indicators show that the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and state regulators are taking action. The FTC’s new Technology Task Force, made up of agency lawyers in coordination with Consumer Protection Bureau and agency technologists, will examine technology-related matters including prospective and consummated technology mergers. Continue reading New Government Task Force Zeroes in on Tech Regulation

Department of Justice Revisits 1941 Music-Licensing Rules

The Department of Justice will soon ask for public input on the status of two legal agreements that have been the foundation of music licensing since 1941, said sources. Advocates of overhauling the rules said that artists are harmed, earning less in the digital age. Those who believe the regulations should stay in place counter that the rules have created a stable marketplace. The review of these music licensing rules comes as the DOJ revisits consent decrees written decades ago for several different industries. Continue reading Department of Justice Revisits 1941 Music-Licensing Rules