European Union Hits Qualcomm With Another Antitrust Fine

For the second time in 18 months, the European Union levied a fine on Qualcomm, this time for €242 million ($272 million). European commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager stated that Qualcomm drove a competing supplier of baseband chips out of business, an antitrust violation. The EU started its formal investigation into Qualcomm in 2015, when U.K. chip manufacturer Icera accused it of “predatory pricing” between 2009 and 2011, to drive it out of business. Nvidia subsequently purchased Icera. Continue reading European Union Hits Qualcomm With Another Antitrust Fine

Amazon Accelerator Program Draws Mixed Vendor Interest

Amazon’s Accelerator program for independent merchants, launched in spring 2018, provides marketing support, product reviews and visibility in exchange for the right to purchase the brand with 60 days notice, for a fixed price, “often $10,000.” It’s part of the tech behemoth’s strategy to build its portfolio of exclusive brands. According to third-party sellers, this is also the first selling program that gives Amazon direct control over independent brands. One source reported that Amazon has not yet purchased any brands. Continue reading Amazon Accelerator Program Draws Mixed Vendor Interest

The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has just opened an inquiry into whether Amazon unfairly uses data gleaned from third-party sellers. The investigation has no deadline and could go on for years. At issue is whether Amazon has an unfair advantage by selling its own goods on the site, in competition with its third-party sellers. Amazon stated it will “cooperate fully” with the investigation as well as “continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.” Continue reading The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

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

France Inks Law to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Threatens Probe

France’s Senate has approved taxing Amazon, Google and other large technology companies, despite the threat of a U.S. probe into discrimination. In fact, the vote came hours after U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said he would investigate the French legislation based on the same law President Trump used in the trade clash with China. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire responded that, “France is a sovereign state. It makes sovereign decisions on tax matters and will continue to make sovereign decisions on tax matters.” Continue reading France Inks Law to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Threatens Probe

Spotify Allows Music Labels to Access Data About its Users

Music streaming service Spotify allows users to “pre-save” an upcoming release to their accounts. But users don’t realize that, by doing so, they are also agreeing to let Spotify release more personal data than is typical to the upcoming release’s label. Those labels can access information to track a user’s listening behavior, change the musicians they follow and possibly even control their music streaming remotely. In an era in which data privacy is receiving more consumer attention, Spotify’s practice is likely to become an issue. Continue reading Spotify Allows Music Labels to Access Data About its Users

Facebook Agrees to Hand Over User Data to French Judges

Marking a world first, social giant Facebook has agreed to turn over data of French users who are suspected of hate speech on the popular platform. Cédric O, state secretary for the digital economy of France, who has been influential in shaping French President Emmanuel Macron’s perspective on Big Tech, made the announcement yesterday. The Facebook decision follows a number of successive meetings between President Macron and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It has been reported that Macron is actively interested in regulating hate speech worldwide and taking control of false information online. Continue reading Facebook Agrees to Hand Over User Data to French Judges

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

World Economic Forum Launches Councils on AI, IoT, More

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution this week announced the creation of six new councils to address policy guidance in areas including artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, IoT and precision medicine. Already a source of friction between the U.S. and China, AI is one emerging technology seen by many nations as crucial to future development and competition. As Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI deputy director Michael Sellitto puts it, “many see AI through the lens of economic and geopolitical competition … [creating] barriers that preserve their perceived strategic advantages, in access to data or research.” Continue reading World Economic Forum Launches Councils on AI, IoT, More

Microsoft Urges U.S. to Adopt Laws Similar to EU’s GDPR

Microsoft corporate vice president/deputy general counsel Julie Brill believes that the federal government is essential in guaranteeing “a strong right to privacy” in the United States. She noted that California and Illinois have enacted serious data protection laws, but that the U.S. needs federal regulation. She came to that conclusion after observing that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enacted almost one year ago, has been “very effective” in transforming how companies manage personal data. Continue reading Microsoft Urges U.S. to Adopt Laws Similar to EU’s GDPR

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

Facebook Opens New Command Post Ahead of EU Election

As part of a range of efforts to show that it has taken regulator and governmental concerns seriously, Facebook has set up an operations center in its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland ahead of the upcoming European Union’s parliamentary election, which is scheduled for May 23-26 across 28 countries. Employees will monitor and clear Facebook of misinformation, fake accounts, and any signs of foreign meddling aimed at swaying election results. Facebook recently set up a similar post in Singapore for elections in India.

Continue reading Facebook Opens New Command Post Ahead of EU Election

Apple Facing Criticism for Restricting Parental Control Apps

“Can you really trust that Apple wants people to spend less time on their phones?” asked Fred Stutzman, founder and chief executive of Freedom, an app designed to limit screen time. Freedom had 770,000 downloads before Apple removed it from the App Store in August, and other app makers have similar stories. According to analysis from The New York Times and app-data firm Sensor Tower, Apple removed or restricted at least 11 of the 17 most downloaded screen time and parental-control apps as well as clamping down on similar but lesser known apps.

Continue reading Apple Facing Criticism for Restricting Parental Control Apps

Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

In its first quarter earnings report yesterday, Facebook revealed that it is putting aside $3 billion (about 6 percent of its cash and marketable securities) in anticipation of an upcoming fine from the Federal Trade Commission regarding privacy violations. The penalty, which could become the highest of its kind against a tech company by U.S. regulators and the biggest privacy-related fine in the FTC’s history, is expected to run from $3 billion to $5 billion. The social media giant posted more than $15 billion in revenue, a 26 percent increase over the year-earlier period. Continue reading Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

Apple’s Tim Cook Makes Case For U.S. Regulation of Tech

At the TIME 100 Summit in New York, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said that technology needs to be regulated to protect privacy, noting that, “we have to admit that what we’re doing isn’t working.” He suggested to U.S. regulators that Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was passed in 2018, is “a step in the right direction,” and added that Europe should continue to evolve the GDPR. Having taken the helm of Apple from founder Steve Jobs in 2011, Cook has become a prominent Silicon Valley leader. Continue reading Apple’s Tim Cook Makes Case For U.S. Regulation of Tech

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