Court Dismisses FTC, States Antitrust Suit Against Facebook

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge James Boasberg dismissed antitrust lawsuits against social media giant Facebook brought by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 states. The judge said the states waited too long to bring up a case on deals made in 2012 and 2014 and that prosecutors failed to prove that Facebook holds a monopoly over social networking. The FTC can bring the case back in 30 days but the judge said it would require a lot more detail. Facebook’s stock rose 4.2 percent in the wake of the news. Continue reading Court Dismisses FTC, States Antitrust Suit Against Facebook

House Judiciary Committee Approves Plans to Rein in Big Tech

Despite significant lobbying efforts by technology companies, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, the final of six bills proposed to restrict Big Tech’s dominance. The Committee also approved the American Choice and Innovation Online Act, which would ban Big Tech from advantaging their own products, disadvantaging rivals or discriminating between “similarly situated” business users and another bill that would require them to make it easier for users to transport their data to other platforms. The bills still must be approved by the House and Senate to become law. Continue reading House Judiciary Committee Approves Plans to Rein in Big Tech

Another Call for the Creation of a Privacy Enforcement Agency

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) has revisited her Data Protection Act of 2020 to add the creation of a government agency that would regulate and enforce federal privacy laws. She noted that, “Big Tech companies are free to sell individuals’ data to the highest bidder without fear of real consequences … a data privacy crisis is looming over the everyday lives of Americans.” The revamped version, more likely to be passed during the Biden administration, also includes sections on antitrust and civil rights. Continue reading Another Call for the Creation of a Privacy Enforcement Agency

Antitrust Law Authority Lina Khan Appointed Chair of the FTC

In a largely bipartisan vote, the Senate appointed antitrust law expert and Columbia Law School associate professor Lina Khan as chair of the Federal Trade Commission after earlier adding her to the agency. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced Khan’s appointment as FTC chair. At 32 years of age, Khan is the youngest person to ever join and lead the FTC. The legal scholar has also been a consistent critic of Big Tech, so her confirmation is evidence that lawmakers from both political parties agree that it is time to further evaluate the growing dominance of those companies. Continue reading Antitrust Law Authority Lina Khan Appointed Chair of the FTC

MoviePass Settles with FTC Over Fraud, Data Security Issues

MoviePass, which shut its doors in January 2019, just settled with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that it prevented customers from using the service as advertised and did not protect their data privacy. The company offered users one movie ticket per day for any movie at any theater for $9.95 a month but soon had to raise subscription fees and limit movie tickets. The FTC accused the company of deceptively marketing its services, invalidating customer passwords to prevent users from obtaining tickets, and failing to secure user data. Continue reading MoviePass Settles with FTC Over Fraud, Data Security Issues

Amazon Sidewalk Will Launch Mesh Networks for IoT Devices

On June 8, Amazon will introduce its new Amazon Sidewalk program that allows some small smart devices — Ring Floodlight and Spotlight cameras, for example, and Echo Dot smart speakers and Echo Show smart displays — to share low-bandwidth home Wi-Fi networks among neighboring Amazon customers. On June 14, the network will expand to include third-party product Tile, connected to keys. All devices will become part of Amazon Sidewalk by default. The idea is that if one network drops out, the device can move to another nearby signal.

Continue reading Amazon Sidewalk Will Launch Mesh Networks for IoT Devices

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

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

ByteDance Executive Shouzi Chew Is New TikTok Chief Exec

TikTok announced that Shouzi Chew — chief financial officer of parent company ByteDance — has been named chief executive of TikTok, replacing interim chief executive Vanessa Pappas. Pappas, who took on that role last year when then-chief executive Kevin Mayer departed, has been named global chief operating officer. Previous to his role at ByteDance, Chew was chief financial officer and international business president at Xiaomi, where he led the company’s initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Chew is fluent in English and Chinese. Continue reading ByteDance Executive Shouzi Chew Is New TikTok Chief Exec

Facebook Advertising Revenue Soared in the Latest Quarter

Facebook’s advertising revenue rose 46 percent in the last quarter compared year-over-year, to $25.44 billion, and its profit almost doubled to $9.5 billion or $3.30 per share. That growth may not continue now that Apple is allowing users to opt out of being tracked by apps. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company has been preparing for Apple’s new rule. Facebook expects revenue to slow in Q3 and Q4, even as its shares rose 6 percent in after-hours trading, a gain of 16 percent over the past three months. Continue reading Facebook Advertising Revenue Soared in the Latest Quarter

EU Releases Its Draft Policy to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

The European Union issued a 108-page policy that establishes rules to govern the use of artificial intelligence, setting limits on its use in everything from bank lending and school enrollment to self-driving cars and hiring decisions. Use of artificial intelligence by law enforcement and court systems, considered “high risk” because of the potential to threaten safety and fundamental rights, is also regulated. Live facial recognition in public spaces would be banned except in cases of national security “and other purposes.” Continue reading EU Releases Its Draft Policy to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

Coalition of Small Businesses Aims to Weaken Amazon’s Grip

Trade groups representing small merchants in hardware, office supplies, books and groceries are organizing in 12 cities to form Small Business Rising, a coalition for stronger antitrust laws and enforcement of existing ones. They hope new measures will force Amazon to spin off its own business lines that compete with them. The House Antitrust Subcommittee is already considering such legislation but hasn’t yet introduced a bill. Amazon called the efforts “misguided interventions in the free market.” Continue reading Coalition of Small Businesses Aims to Weaken Amazon’s Grip

TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

Irvine, California-based smart TV maker Vizio had its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange last week, offering 12.25 million shares priced at $21, valuing the company at about $3.9 billion. Vizio chairman and chief executive William Wang, who founded the company in 2002, is focused on the SmartCast streaming platform. Among smart TVs in North America, Vizio is second only to Samsung. Vizio’s platform business grew four-fold from 2018 to 2020, to $147.2 million, with total revenue topping $2 billion in 2020. Continue reading TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

Biden Appointing Antitrust Experts to Key Administrative Posts

President Joe Biden is expected to nominate Columbia University law professor Lina Khan, a leader of the Big Tech antitrust movement, for an open seat on the Federal Trade Commission, where she would have power to enforce existing regulations. Biden appointed another Columbia law professor, Tim Wu to the National Economic Council (NEC) as a special assistant for technology and competition policy. Big Tech antitrust wasn’t a signature focus of Biden’s presidential campaign, but the appointments seem to signal his intentions. Continue reading Biden Appointing Antitrust Experts to Key Administrative Posts

Nvidia Acquisition of Arm Faces FTC Probe, Big Tech Critics

As Nvidia moves to close its $40 billion deal to acquire Arm Holdings, tech companies Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm are saying the deal will harm competition and are asking for regulatory intervention. The UK-based Arm, which licenses its chip technology to Amazon, Apple, Huawei Technologies, Intel and Samsung Electronics among others, is known as the Switzerland in the semiconductor industry because it licenses its technology to companies rather than competes with them. Critics fear that Nvidia would change this policy or raise the cost. Continue reading Nvidia Acquisition of Arm Faces FTC Probe, Big Tech Critics