Google to Let Android Users Choose Other Search Engines

Under pressure from European Union antitrust head Margrethe Vestager, Google will make it easier for users to choose a competitive search engine. Since Google’s record $4.8 billion fine didn’t “do the trick” to fix the problem, she proposed a “choice screen mechanism.” Beginning March 2020, Google will now offer this screen that allows users to pick a default search engine, and list rival search engines for little or no money. Google said the solution had been “developed in consultation with the European Commission.” Continue reading Google to Let Android Users Choose Other Search Engines

Libra Is Challenged by European Commission, U.S. Senators

Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra has faced another setback, this time in the European Union, which plans to introduce legislation to prevent it from competing with Europe’s single currency. European Commission vice president Valdis Dombrovskis, in charge of regulation, said Libra is a systemic risk to the Euro, “both from the perspective of financial stability and the protection of financial investors.” In the U.S., two Democratic senators urged Mastercard, Visa and Stripe to reconsider their support of Libra. Continue reading Libra Is Challenged by European Commission, U.S. Senators

Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook about $5 billion for privacy violations, but the sum is considered a slap on the wrist since it neither hurt the company’s bottom line nor limited its ability to collect data. But, since 2016, 43+ countries have passed or introduced laws regulating social media and the spread of fake news, and U.S., European and Canadian regulators have initiated investigations and proposed regulations that will likely be much more draconian. Congress is considering a federal privacy law. Continue reading Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

Tech Firms and Investors Develop AI Ethics, Best Practices

A growing number of venture capital and technology executives are pushing for a code of ethics for artificial intelligence startups, as well as tools to make algorithms’ decision-making process more transparent and best practices that include open, consistent communication. At Google, chief decision scientist Cassie Kozyrkov believes humans can fix AI problems. But the technology is still under intense scrutiny from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city of San Francisco and the European Commission, among others. Continue reading Tech Firms and Investors Develop AI Ethics, Best Practices

Senators Press For National Artificial Intelligence Strategy

Several U.S. senators have proposed the Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act to create a national AI strategy and fund federal R&D in this growing area to the tune of $2.2 billion. The initiative’s $2.2 billion would be awarded over a five-year period to multiple federal agencies. At the same time, although the European Commission put out guidelines for artificial intelligence technology, some experts are saying that the tech companies that participated in drafting guidelines compromised them to protect their own interests. Continue reading Senators Press For National Artificial Intelligence Strategy

India Reportedly Launches Antitrust Investigation of Google

Sources informed Reuters that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered an antitrust investigation into Google for allegedly using the popularity of its Android operating system to block competitors. CCI began evaluating the complaint in 2018, and by April of this year reportedly determined that there was enough merit to launch a full investigation. A similar case played out in Europe last year, which resulted in a $5 billion fine against Google. In that case, the EU determined that Google had violated antitrust rules by forcing Android phone manufacturers to pre-install the Google search app and Chrome Web browser, providing the Google Play Store with an unfair advantage. Continue reading India Reportedly Launches Antitrust Investigation of Google

EU Parliament Passes Laws That Impact Online Companies

The European Parliament voted to fine Internet platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter up to 4 percent of their annual global turnover if they do not remove extremist content within one hour of authorities’ request to do so. The vote was 308 to 204, with 70 abstentions. The European Parliament also approved a platform-to-business (P2B) law proposed by the European Commission in April 2018. The P2B law forces Amazon and Google to reveal how they rank products and Facebook and others to be more transparent. Continue reading EU Parliament Passes Laws That Impact Online Companies

EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

In a vote of 348 to 274, nineteen out of the European Union’s 28 member countries voted in favor of reformed laws to protect content creators. Critics of the reform — including large tech companies — argue that the rules will reduce free speech online, with Articles 11 and 13 of particular concern. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker declared that the new copyright rules are “fit for the digital age.” In the lead-up to the vote, nativist groups in many countries worked to defeat the new rules. Continue reading EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

According to sources, on May 2-3 when officials from 30+ countries meet in Prague to discuss security principles for 5G networks, the U.S. will propose measures to prevent China’s Huawei from gaining dominance. The U.S. has long believed that the Chinese government can use Huawei’s gear to spy via Internet-connected products from AR to self-driving cars. Huawei has denied the accusations. The U.S. strategy at the upcoming meeting, said a U.S. official, is “softer” than its previous efforts to limit Huawei’s influence. Continue reading U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

German Price-Comparison Service Files Suit Against Google

Price-comparison service Idealo sued Google in a Berlin court, claiming that the tech behemoth has made it harder for users to find Idealo on the search engine since it began promoting its own price-comparison product Google Shopping. Ideola’s suit also names Google Ireland, Alphabet’s European body, and seeks €500 million in damages. The suit is based on the European Union’s two-year old ruling that fined Google €2.42 billion ($2.72 billion) for favoring its own offerings over those of competitors. Continue reading German Price-Comparison Service Files Suit Against Google

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

Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

Spotify filed a complaint with European regulators accusing Apple of violating antitrust laws by crushing companies that compete with its services, including Apple Music. Apple charges a fee of up to 30 percent on anything sold in its App Store. Spotify reported to the European Commission that Apple’s policies are a “tax” that violate competition laws, and chief executive Daniel Ek complained that Apple gives itself “an unfair advantage at every turn.” It is uncertain if the complaint will lead to a formal EC investigation. Continue reading Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

The U.K. government released a 150-page report stressing that the country needs to update its antitrust policies to deal with big technology companies. The report, which was ordered by the U.K.’s top treasury official, Exchequer chancellor Philip Hammond, states that the U.K. should implement tighter rules on acquisition in the tech sector to make it easier for new competitors to arise. The European Union and U.S. presidential hopefuls Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar have expressed similar points of view. Continue reading U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

HPA Tech Retreat: Jim Burger Presents Washington Update

In what has been an annual presentation at the HPA Tech Retreat, Thompson Coburn attorney Jim Burger delivered his update of legislation and litigation from the nation’s capital. His take on “administrative-legislative developments in copyright” was summed up by a slide of stars and the sounds of crickets, reflecting the government shutdown. Burger first briefly defined copyright as “an original expression in a fixed tangible medium,” and described the four-factor test that defines non-exclusivity. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Jim Burger Presents Washington Update

Apple Agrees to Pay Large Amount in Back-Taxes to France

Apple revealed it has reached a deal with French authorities to pay back-dated taxes, reportedly in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Apple’s French division did not disclose the specific amount, but French media has reported it to be around 500 million euros, or $571 million U.S. “As a multinational company, Apple is regularly audited by fiscal authorities around the world,” explained Apple France in a statement. “The French tax administration recently concluded a multi-year audit on the company’s French accounts, and those details will be published in our public accounts.” Continue reading Apple Agrees to Pay Large Amount in Back-Taxes to France