Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

President Joe Biden signed an executive order with 72 proposals and actions for a “whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy.” Among them, President Biden encourages the FCC to restore net neutrality rules undone by former President Donald Trump, to “consider limiting early termination fees and prevent Internet service providers from making deals with landlords that limit tenant choices,” and to revive the President Barack Obama era Broadband Nutrition Label and its better price transparency. Continue reading Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

Google and Microsoft End Truce as Ad Tech Battle Heats Up

The five-year truce between Google and Microsoft has broken down. Sources say that neither company is interested in renewing the former alliance. Microsoft wants marketers to have equal access to search engines when they build campaigns with Google technology, but Google believes that, in fact, Microsoft sees it as a threat to Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing and Office productivity businesses. Both companies are now “handing ammo” against each other to regulators, a strategy that might backfire on both of them. Continue reading Google and Microsoft End Truce as Ad Tech Battle Heats Up

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

Andreessen Horowitz Debuts $2.2 Billion Cryptocurrency Fund

Andreessen Horowitz launched a $2.2 billion cryptocurrency fund focused on blockchain and digital asset startups. The venture capital firm’s first crypto-focused fund was introduced three years ago, during the last bear market dubbed “crypto winter,” when cryptocurrency’s value plummeted 80 percent from a 2017 high. Andreessen Horowitz partners Katie Haun and Chris Dixon, who run the company’s cryptocurrency group, stated that they “believe that the next wave of computing innovation will be driven by crypto.” Continue reading Andreessen Horowitz Debuts $2.2 Billion Cryptocurrency Fund

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

Bitcoin Ransom Recovery May Impact Cryptocurrency Status

Bitcoin is touted as a secure, decentralized and anonymous way to conduct financial transactions, one reason why cybercriminals use it or some other cryptocurrency when conducting illegal business, whether it’s drug trafficking or ransomware. But this week the Justice Department revealed that it traced and recovered 63.7 of the 75 Bitcoins ($2.3 million of the total $4.3 million) that Colonial Pipeline paid in ransom to release its computer systems. The feds declined to detail how they recouped the Bitcoin. Meanwhile, El Salvador has become the first nation to formally adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. Continue reading Bitcoin Ransom Recovery May Impact Cryptocurrency Status

Pentagon Considers Ending JEDI, Enabling Bigger Role for AI

The Pentagon may end the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) cloud-computing project, awarded to Microsoft in 2019. Since then, it has been in litigation with Amazon, which was passed over for the $10 billion contract that will consolidate the Pentagon’s array of data systems and provide access to real-time information. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is also exploring the use of artificial intelligence in automating military systems, including weapons. Continue reading Pentagon Considers Ending JEDI, Enabling Bigger Role for AI

Apple, Epic Games Trial to Determine Anticompetition Charge

The lawsuit between Apple and Epic Games has come to trial and is expected to last about three weeks. Epic sued the Big Tech company over its App Store rule that developers must use its payment system, for which it charges a 30 percent fee. Epic Games has also sued tech giant Google for the same issue on its Play Store. The European Union has similarly charged Apple with violating antitrust laws. At the trial, Epic’s lawyers will argue a legal theory that Apple is using its dominant position to stifle competition. Continue reading Apple, Epic Games Trial to Determine Anticompetition Charge

Google’s Ad Sales Shatter Records as Brands Shift to Digital

The pandemic-driven stay-at-home year supercharged Alphabet’s digital ad sales in Q1 to $55.31 billion, 34 percent up from a year earlier. Advertising sales via signature products such as Search, Google Maps and Gmail rose 30 percent to $31.88 billion as brands transitioned ad spending from print, TV and in-store promotions to Google services. Profit also more than doubled and per-share earnings were higher than expected. YouTube earned $6 billion, a 49 percent increase from last year, and total profit soared 162 percent from the previous year to almost $18 billion. Continue reading Google’s Ad Sales Shatter Records as Brands Shift to Digital

Univision Selects Google for Bundled Cloud Computing Deal

Google has inked an eight-year deal with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications that could exceed $1 billion. Univision chief executive Wade Davis said Google’s offer of benefits on its YouTube video platform and advertising and search services helped close the deal. Microsoft and Amazon have also bundled products in cloud computing deals and lawmakers have expressed concern over the tactic. Google currently faces antitrust suits filed by the Justice Department and several states. Continue reading Univision Selects Google for Bundled Cloud Computing Deal

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

White House Names Official to Lead Probe of Expansive Hack

In December, suspected Russian hackers compromised SolarWinds Corp., a small software vendor, leveraging it to infiltrate the U.S. departments of Commerce, State and Treasury, as well as numerous private companies. An in-depth investigation revealed that the hack’s scope was larger than first known, with about one-third of those hacked having no direct connection with SolarWinds. Now, the Biden administration has selected White House National Security Council senior official Anne Neuberger to lead the response. Continue reading White House Names Official to Lead Probe of Expansive Hack

Senator Klobuchar Calls for Tough New Antitrust Legislation

As incoming head of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) renewed her call to legislate major changes to U.S. trust laws. Specifically, the legislation would prevent companies that dominate in a sector from purchasing other companies unless they can prove the deals don’t “create an appreciable risk of materially lessening competition.” Klobuchar suggested such changes in Congress’ previous session and Republicans largely rebuffed them. Democrat control of the Senate could improve the odds of passage. Continue reading Senator Klobuchar Calls for Tough New Antitrust Legislation

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos is stepping down from the role he has held since he started the Big Tech company 26 years ago and will assume the role of executive chairman. Amazon Web Services head Andy Jassy will replace Bezos as Amazon’s new chief executive. Bezos hands over the reins during a time in which COVID-19 has helped the company achieve record-breaking sales, while it also faces regulatory and legal investigations. Personally, he vies with Tesla chief executive Elon Musk as the world’s wealthiest person. Continue reading Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Google Files First Formal Counter to Justice Department Suit

Google issued its first formal rejoinder to the Justice Department’s charges that the company has used its position, including deals with other Big Tech companies, to maintain its dominance in online search. Google denies, in a sentence-by-sentence rebuttal, charges of violating antitrust laws or engaging in anticompetitive behavior. Evidence was uncovered that Google and Facebook agreed to “cooperate and assist” one another should they be investigated for working together on online advertising. Continue reading Google Files First Formal Counter to Justice Department Suit

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