French Competition Authority Fines Apple & Two Wholesalers

The French Competition Authority fined Apple 1.1 billion euros ($1.23 billion) after determining that the company unfairly divided products and customers between two wholesalers, Tech Data and Ingram Micro, and forced them to charge the same prices as those offered in its own retail stores. The Authority president Isabelle de Silva stated that doing so had the effect of “sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products.” Tech Data and Ingram Micro were fined 76.1 million euros and 62.9 million euros, respectively. Continue reading French Competition Authority Fines Apple & Two Wholesalers

Justice Department Charges Huawei With Racketeering, Theft

The Justice Department issued a federal indictment, which was unsealed in the Eastern District of New York, accusing Huawei Technologies and its affiliates of a “pattern of racketeering activity” as well as stealing trade secrets from six U.S. firms. The six firms were not named, but a source identified them as Cisco Systems, CNEX Labs, Fujitsu, Motorola Solutions, Quintel Technology and T-Mobile. Among the reportedly stolen information were source code and manuals for wireless technology. Continue reading Justice Department Charges Huawei With Racketeering, Theft

FTC Looks Into Acquisition Strategies of Big Tech Companies

The Federal Trade Commission is focused on acquisitions made by Big Tech companies, ordering Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft to turn over information on such past deals. Specifically, the FTC wants to know about the smaller deals — many less than $100 million — that the companies were not required to report to regulators, in hopes of learning more about potential antitrust abuses. FTC chair Joseph Simons noted that if they find “problematic transactions,” they can conceivably “initiate enforcement action.” Continue reading FTC Looks Into Acquisition Strategies of Big Tech Companies

T-Mobile and Sprint Clear Another Hurdle to Finalizing Merger

The merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, the nation’s third and fourth largest wireless carriers, is nearly approved after a drawn-out battle. The Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department cleared the merger in June, but the process ground to a halt when attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia sued. This week in Manhattan, U.S. District Court judge Victor Marrero rejected the suit, leaving one last step to navigate. The new company will be called T-Mobile and have about 100 million customers. Continue reading T-Mobile and Sprint Clear Another Hurdle to Finalizing Merger

DOJ’s Probe Into Google Focuses on Third-Party Ad Tools

The Justice Department is advancing its antitrust probe of Google with a more specific focus on how its third-party advertising business works with advertisers and publishers. The DOJ is also posing more detailed questions to executives inside the company, its rivals, advertising agencies, ad technology companies and publishers among others. Those questions center around Google’s integration of its ad server with its ad exchange, and Google’s requirement for advertisers to use its tools to buy ad space on YouTube. Continue reading DOJ’s Probe Into Google Focuses on Third-Party Ad Tools

Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, major tech players such as Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft asked lawmakers for regulations they once fought. Facing antitrust probes and pushback on AI, privacy and encryption among other issues, these companies believe laws are inevitable and want to have a role in creating them. They also fear a patchwork quilt of global laws. Most recently, the Justice Department sparred with Apple over its request for help to unlock the iPhones of the Saudi Arabian naval trainee who killed three people in Florida. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

Big Tech Firms Increase Spending to Influence Lawmakers

Big Tech is now one of the biggest lobbying groups in Washington, D.C. Facebook posted the greatest increase in spending last year, followed by Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. By increasing spending in lobbying, the companies hope to influence privacy legislation, pursue government contracts and rebut charges of unfair competition. Alphabet is the only Big Tech company to reduce its spending for lobbying in 2019, by 44 percent to $11.8 million. It also ended its relationship with lobbyists at six outside firms. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Increase Spending to Influence Lawmakers

Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

According to six sources, in response to FBI concerns, Apple dropped the plan to allow iPhone users to encrypt backups in its iCloud service. Although this took place two years ago, it is just now being reported. Stress between Apple’s stance on privacy and law enforcement’s push to have access to its phones re-emerged a few weeks ago when a Saudi Air Force officer killed three Americans at Naval Air Station Pensacola. U.S. attorney general William Barr and President Donald Trump urged Apple to unlock the killer’s two iPhones. Continue reading Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

Universal, Warner Bros. Plan DVD Distribution Joint Venture

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment inked a deal to form a joint DVD distribution venture in North America, for library titles, TV content and new releases. The pact, slated to be operational by Q1 2021, will last through 2031. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment president Eddie Cunningham will lead the venture, which will include executives from both studios. The two studios also signed license agreements for DVD distribution in countries outside of North America. Continue reading Universal, Warner Bros. Plan DVD Distribution Joint Venture

Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

In the aftermath of a deadly shooting at a Naval air station in Pensacola, Florida that was later declared an act of terrorism, Attorney General William Barr requested that Apple provide access to the two iPhones used by the killer. He later complained that Apple has thus far provided no “substantive assistance.” The Saudi Arabian assassin, Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was training with the U.S. military but had earlier posted anti-American, anti-Israeli and jihadist screeds on social media. Continue reading Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

China’s Cloud Hopper Cyberhack Bigger Than First Revealed

Cloud Hopper, a massive cybertheft effort allegedly run by China’s intelligence services and operating through cloud services since at least 2016, is much bigger than it was originally believed to be. U.S. prosecutors identified and charged two Chinese nationals, but both remain at large. The original indictment listed 14 unnamed companies and about a dozen cloud providers. The Trump administration escalated the military’s use of cyber weapons, but hasn’t revealed its rules, leading to a bipartisan push for transparency. Continue reading China’s Cloud Hopper Cyberhack Bigger Than First Revealed

Multiple Bugs Made Zoom Hardware Susceptible to Hackers

In July, security firm Forescout discovered that DTEN touchscreen smart TVs, one of video conference service Zoom’s “certified hardware providers,” can be hacked to allow evildoers to bug conference rooms and capture video feeds and whiteboard notes. A two-week study of the DTEN D5 and D7 connected displays revealed five bugs, three of which have been patched but two of which remain. After Forescout disclosed the flaws to DTEN, it decided to go public to raise awareness of the security threat. Continue reading Multiple Bugs Made Zoom Hardware Susceptible to Hackers

Cisco Wins Injunction Against Four Chinese Counterfeiters

Cisco Systems won a temporary injunction against four Chinese companies the company accused of counterfeiting its transceivers. Filed in federal court in the Eastern District of New York, the suit said the fake gear threatened U.S. national security and health systems because they were not secure and would fail more often. The transceivers are used in networks to pass data through corporate data centers, hospitals and military bases. The injunction will force Amazon and Alibaba Group Holding to cease sales of the phony equipment. Continue reading Cisco Wins Injunction Against Four Chinese Counterfeiters

Facebook Advances Encryption Plans For Messaging Apps

Although U.S. Attorney General William Barr has advocated against encryption, Facebook is advancing its plans to add the technology to all its messaging platforms. Barr wants Facebook to allow at least some government access to those platforms, in the name of public safety. WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart and Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky responded to Barr that, “undermining encryption in their products for law enforcement would create a ‘backdoor’ vulnerability that malicious actors also could leverage to harm users.” Continue reading Facebook Advances Encryption Plans For Messaging Apps

T-Mobile, Sprint Defend Proposed Merger in Federal Court

The Democratic attorneys general of 13 states and the District of Columbia are suing to block the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. According to legal experts, a suit in which so many states reject of the federal government’s settlement — and move to block it, without any federal support — is unprecedented. Merged, T-Mobile and Sprint, the third and fourth largest telecom carriers, would rival AT&T and Verizon Communications. The federal government approved the deal earlier this year, after demanding some concessions. Continue reading T-Mobile, Sprint Defend Proposed Merger in Federal Court

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