FTC Is Investigating AI Investments by Major Tech Companies

The Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into Big Tech’s artificial intelligence arms race. Specifically, the agency has ordered five companies to provide information under what it calls a “6(b) inquiry,” targeting Amazon and Google’s strategic alliance with Anthropic, and Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI. The scrutiny aims “to build a better internal understanding of these relationships and their impact on the competitive landscape.” In other words, the government does not want another free for all, along the lines of social media’s growth, which saw big players acquire startups competing in the space. Continue reading FTC Is Investigating AI Investments by Major Tech Companies

Sam Altman Joins Microsoft After Abruptly Ousted by OpenAI

Rumors were running rampant over the weekend as an unanticipated executive shuffle played out at OpenAI. It began on Friday when CEO Sam Altman was pushed out by the OpenAI board. President and co-founder Greg Brockman quickly resigned in solidarity, followed by several top researchers. Reports circulated the following day that investors were pressuring the board into reconsidering its decision, but by Sunday evening, OpenAI announced that former Twitch leader Emmett Shear would serve as the new interim chief. Shortly after, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Altman, Brockman and other OpenAI employees would join Microsoft to lead an advanced AI research unit. Continue reading Sam Altman Joins Microsoft After Abruptly Ousted by OpenAI

FTC Investigates OpenAI Over Data Policies, Misinformation

The Federal Trade Commission has opened a civil investigation into OpenAI to determine the extent to which its data policies are harmful to consumers as well as the potentially deleterious effects of misinformation spread through “hallucinations” by its ChatGPT chatbot. The FTC sent OpenAI dozens of questions last week in a 20-page letter instructing the company to contact FTC counsel “as soon as possible to schedule a telephonic meeting within 14 days.” The questions deal with everything from how the company trains its models to the handling of personal data. Continue reading FTC Investigates OpenAI Over Data Policies, Misinformation

Concerns Arise Over Meta’s Semiquincentennial Sponsorship

In exchange for $10 million to the non-profit America250 Foundation, Meta Platforms has reportedly signed on as the official social media partner of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Reports say the firm will be integrally involved in producing and promoting the Semiquincentennial and events leading up to and on July 4, 2026. However, the move has been described as controversial, with some stakeholders concerned Meta’s insider status may deter other companies from buying sponsorships. The agreement is expected to be up for a vote today in Pennsylvania. Continue reading Concerns Arise Over Meta’s Semiquincentennial Sponsorship

SEC Is Investigating Workplace Conduct at Activision Blizzard

The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into Activision Blizzard examining how the gaming company handled information related to workplace discrimination and sexual misconduct. Senior executives including CEO Bobby Kotick have been subpoenaed along with former and current employees. The SEC asked for Kotick’s internal communications and minutes from Activision board meetings dating from 2019. The publisher of “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” and “Candy Crush” must also provide the agency with personnel files and 2021 separation agreements. Continue reading SEC Is Investigating Workplace Conduct at Activision Blizzard

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