European Commission Files Antitrust Charges Against Amazon

After months of anticipation, the European Union, led by competition chief Margrethe Vestager, is finally filing antitrust charges against Amazon, with the belief it has enough hard evidence to charge the Big Tech company. The EU claims that Amazon used data to build copycat products that undermines independent businesses, especially in France and Germany. EU regulators also have an ongoing investigation into Amazon’s alleged practice of favorable treatment for its “Buy Box” and “Prime Label” features. Continue reading European Commission Files Antitrust Charges Against Amazon

Facebook Argues Breakup Would Be Costly, Weaken Security

Facebook’s lawyers, relying on research by the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, prepared a 14-page document that lays out its defenses against government threats to force a break from its messaging service WhatsApp and photo- and video-sharing platform Instagram. Congress and other federal antitrust regulators continue to investigate Facebook, as well as Google, Amazon and Apple, and the House Antitrust Subcommittee is expected to release its findings this month. Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 were vetted by the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Facebook Argues Breakup Would Be Costly, Weaken Security

FTC Probe of Facebook Unlikely to Conclude by Election Time

About a year ago, the Federal Trade Commission chair Joseph Simons predicted that the antitrust probe of Facebook would be done before the presidential election, a goal that now seems unlikely. If it runs into next year, a new president could change the FTC’s priorities. For now, the Facebook investigation continues, with staff members prepping depositions of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and examining its purchase of Giphy, a search database for short videos. Continue reading FTC Probe of Facebook Unlikely to Conclude by Election Time

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

Global Regulators Looking Into Facebook Privacy Practices

Regulators have reached a tipping point with Facebook after years of half-measures regarding the social media giant’s security-related missteps. Now, regulators across four continents are attempting to reign in Facebook’s behavior. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission hasn’t come to a decisive conclusion regarding what constraints to implement, but the agency is looking to address a wide range of issues, including violations reported almost monthly, according to a source close to the investigation.

Continue reading Global Regulators Looking Into Facebook Privacy Practices

Facebook Says Spammers, Not Nation-State, Behind Breach

Facebook’s internal investigation into the recent data breach that affected 30 million user accounts has concluded that the hack was the work of spammers disguised as a digital marketing company, and not foreign nationals. Facebook believes the attack was initiated by a group of Facebook and Instagram spammers that intended to make money by means of deceptive advertising. The FBI is continuing its investigation into the hack, which is the worst security breach in the social network’s 14-year history. Continue reading Facebook Says Spammers, Not Nation-State, Behind Breach

Cambridge Analytica to Cease Operations, File for Bankruptcy

In the wake of the Facebook privacy scandal, London-based data consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and parent company SCL Elections announced yesterday that they will be shutting down and filing for bankruptcy. Cambridge Analytica, which is accused of mining the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their consent, has defended its actions while blaming the media for damaging its reputation and driving away clients. The company said it was “vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.” Continue reading Cambridge Analytica to Cease Operations, File for Bankruptcy

SEC Opens Investigation into Massive Yahoo Data Breaches

The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into Yahoo’s highly-publicized data breaches and whether the company should have disclosed the massive hacks earlier. “The SEC requires companies to disclose cybersecurity risks as soon as they are determined to have an effect on investors,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Yahoo’s 2014 breach, disclosed in September 2016, involved data from at least 500 million users. In December 2016, the company revealed that more than 1 billion Yahoo user accounts had been breached in 2013. “The SEC has investigated multiple companies over whether they properly disclosed hacks,” notes WSJ, especially after the 2013 Target breach “that compromised up to 70 million credit and debit-card accounts.” Continue reading SEC Opens Investigation into Massive Yahoo Data Breaches

Popular Payment Service Venmo Under Federal Investigation

According to an SEC filing, PayPal-owned peer-to-peer payment service Venmo is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether the company “engaged in deceptive or unfair practices in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act.” PayPal received a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) from the FTC on March 28. “The CID could lead to an enforcement action and/or one or more consent orders,” explains PayPal, “which may result in substantial costs, including legal fees, fines, penalties, and remediation expenses and actions, and could require us to change aspects of the manner in which we operate Venmo.” Continue reading Popular Payment Service Venmo Under Federal Investigation

Amazon, Hachette Settle Long-Running Dispute Over E-Books

Amazon and Hachette have finally resolved their ongoing public dispute, which began back in January. Hachette will now have the ability to set its own prices for e-books and print books, but will be offered incentives for selling at lower prices. Despite yesterday’s announcement, seen by most as a victory for Hachette (in the short term), Amazon still controls almost half of today’s book trade. In addition, the long-running dispute showed the industry that Amazon is not afraid to use its power to affect sales. Continue reading Amazon, Hachette Settle Long-Running Dispute Over E-Books

Trial: Verizon FiOS and Netflix Test Bundled Subscription Plan

Verizon and Netflix are quietly testing a plan that could lead to an industry first regarding a major MVPD offering the SVOD service as part of a bundled subscription. Verizon is offering new FiOS Triple Play customers in New York City a free year’s worth of Netflix (a $108 value). The trial follows the back-and-forth between Verizon and Netflix contentiously debating which company was to blame for buffering problems that eventually led to a peering deal with Netflix paying extra fees. Continue reading Trial: Verizon FiOS and Netflix Test Bundled Subscription Plan

Simon & Schuster and Amazon Strike New Deal for E-Books

Publisher Simon & Schuster announced yesterday that it has negotiated a multiyear agreement with Amazon for print and electronic books. According to a letter signed by CEO Carolyn Reidy, the deal “is economically advantageous for both Simon & Schuster and its authors and maintains the author’s share of income generated from e-book sales.” The letter also indicates that the contract gives control of e-book pricing to Simon & Schuster, “with some limited exceptions.” Continue reading Simon & Schuster and Amazon Strike New Deal for E-Books

Apple to Add Security Alerts Following Celebrity Photo Leaks

Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that the hackers responsible for recently leaking nude photos of celebrities were able to break into the celebrities’ iCloud accounts. The company plans to add additional security alerts to help prevent future security breaches. In the next two weeks, Apple users will start receiving notifications when someone tries to change an account password, restore iCloud data to a new device, or when a new device logs onto the account for the first time. Continue reading Apple to Add Security Alerts Following Celebrity Photo Leaks

Verizon Settlement is Largest in FCC History Involving Privacy

Following an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission regarding the use of customer information for marketing campaigns, Verizon has agreed to pay a settlement to the federal government. The FCC investigated allegations that Verizon used personal information without notifying customers or obtaining their consent. To end the investigation, Verizon will pay $7.4 million to the U.S. Treasury and notify its customers of their opt-out rights on every bill for the next three years. Continue reading Verizon Settlement is Largest in FCC History Involving Privacy

FCC Investigates the Speed and Quality of Internet Service

Netflix and other entertainment companies have started paying Internet providers for faster service, a concept that some believe will adversely affect competition. In order to discover whether the consumers are getting the speed and quality of service that has been promised, the FCC has opened an investigation. The agency begins this process just as it decides whether it actually holds jurisdiction over their businesses as no laws give the FCC the power to enforce Net neutrality. Continue reading FCC Investigates the Speed and Quality of Internet Service

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