FTC Chair Open to Option of Breaking Up Major Tech Firms

Federal Trade Commission chair Joe Simons stated that, in the face of anti-competitive and antitrust behavior, he would be willing to break up the big tech companies, although, “it’s not ideal because it’s messy.” He’s head of a task force to examine these behemoths, including a close look at whether Facebook acquired startups, such as Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, to stifle competition. The FTC approved both purchases. The FTC is working in parallel with the Justice Department’s antitrust unit. Continue reading FTC Chair Open to Option of Breaking Up Major Tech Firms

ASCAP, BMI Urge Government to Update Consent Decrees

ASCAP and BMI, the two largest U.S. performing rights organizations, have operated under separate 1941 consent decrees. The decrees, designed to protect competition, dictate how ASCAP and BMI (but not rivals SESAC and Global Music Rights) license music. In February, ASCAP and BMI, who are fierce competitors, urged the consent decrees to be updated or ended, and, last year, Justice Department assistant attorney general for the antitrust division Makan Delrahim vowed to examine the decrees to “determine their validity.” Continue reading ASCAP, BMI Urge Government to Update Consent Decrees

FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg purchased startups to forestall the competition they might pose. Sources said that the FTC is already reaching out to the founders of some of these startups. S&P Global estimates that Facebook has purchased about 90 companies over the past 15 years. Facebook isn’t alone in this behavior. A U.K. antitrust panel reported that the top five tech companies have acquired more than 400 companies over the last decade. Continue reading FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

DOJ Okays T-Mobile/Sprint Merger, State AGs Sue to Block

The Justice Department approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, respectively the U.S.’s third and fourth largest wireless networks. Critics of the merger, who include several state attorneys general and Democratic presidential candidates, reiterated that the deal would not benefit consumers, a point of view shared, until recently, by DOJ’s antitrust chief Makan Delrahim. He considered the ramifications but changed his mind when both companies agreed to sell portions of their businesses to Dish Network. Continue reading DOJ Okays T-Mobile/Sprint Merger, State AGs Sue to Block

Led by Search Dominance, Google Posts Strong Earnings

Despite analysts’ forecast of a slowdown and the threat of regulations, Google parent Alphabet posted strong earnings, with reported revenue of $38.9 billion, up 19 percent over the same period last year, and $9.2 billion in profits. The tech company’s continued dominance in search is foundational to its robust financial health. Announcement of the strong results, after a worrisome first quarter, caused Alphabet’s stock to rise 9 percent in after-hours trading. Google is expected to profit from advertising in Maps, YouTube and other areas. Continue reading Led by Search Dominance, Google Posts Strong Earnings

Dish Purchase Opens Door to Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

Following weeks of negotiation, Dish Network has agreed to pay about $1.5 billion for T-Mobile and Sprint’s prepaid mobile businesses and about $3.5 billion for their spectrum. The deal’s terms prevent Dish from selling the assets or transferring control of them to a third party for a period of three years. The Justice Department is set now to approve the $26.5 billion merger of the two mobile phone carriers, said sources, which would position Dish to become the No. 4 wireless carrier in the U.S., replacing Sprint. Continue reading Dish Purchase Opens Door to Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook about $5 billion for privacy violations, but the sum is considered a slap on the wrist since it neither hurt the company’s bottom line nor limited its ability to collect data. But, since 2016, 43+ countries have passed or introduced laws regulating social media and the spread of fake news, and U.S., European and Canadian regulators have initiated investigations and proposed regulations that will likely be much more draconian. Congress is considering a federal privacy law. Continue reading Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Facebook is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for numerous potential civil and criminal violations. The Silicon Valley company, which denies the charges, said it is cooperating with law enforcement. The HUD investigation, the most recent, states that Facebook allowed advertisers to restrict who they target, based on race, religion and national origin. Continue reading Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Justice Department Levies Multiple Charges Against Huawei

The Justice Department charged Huawei and its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou with the theft of trade secrets, obstructing a criminal investigation and evading economic sanctions on Iran. The charges are part of an aggressive move by the U.S. to block the Chinese telecom firm suspected of undermining national interests. The charges are based on Huawei’s internal emails describing a plan to steal T-Mobile testing equipment. Internal memos also link Meng to bank fraud to evade sanctions against Iran. Continue reading Justice Department Levies Multiple Charges Against Huawei

T-Mobile Delays Debut of its Streaming TV Service Until 2019

T-Mobile US is pushing back the introduction of its video service until 2019, although those plans might also change, said sources. The reason is that the project became more complex than anticipated; chief executive John Legere had said the carrier would create a “disruptive TV service” that would transform the television industry, setting a high bar that was difficult to meet given the time constraint. Sources said the delay is intended to provide the time for T-Mobile to deliver on Legere’s initial promise. Continue reading T-Mobile Delays Debut of its Streaming TV Service Until 2019

U.S. Charges Members of China’s Elite APT10 With Hacking

The Trump administration has charged two Chinese citizens accused of involvement in a state-sponsored effort to steal information from government agencies, various businesses and managed service providers. The hackers are said to be members of China’s elite APT10 group, and prosecutors claim there are direct links between the accused and China’s Ministry of State Security. The U.S. says China’s cyberattacks have become significant national and economic security threats. The latest charges indicate that Chinese authorities directed the hacking campaign. Continue reading U.S. Charges Members of China’s Elite APT10 With Hacking

ISPs and Cable Groups Sue to Stop California Net Neutrality

Four groups representing Internet providers and cable companies filed a lawsuit to block’s California’s new law to restore net neutrality to the state. The American Cable Association, CTIA – The Wireless Association, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, and USTelecom – The Broadband Association, which together represent AT&T, Verizon Communications, Comcast, Charter Communications and many other such companies, filed their lawsuit after the U.S. Justice Department filed its own. Continue reading ISPs and Cable Groups Sue to Stop California Net Neutrality

Justice Department Accuses Russian Spies of Cyberattacks

The Justice Department’s National Security Division claims that seven hackers suspected of working with Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit were part of a conspiracy to hack multiple organizations including the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Democratic National Committee, a nuclear energy company and several media outlets. The Fancy Bear cyber espionage group, also known as Sofacy or APT28, is accused of launching a disinformation campaign leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and “hacking to obtain non-public, health information about athletes and others in the files of anti-doping agencies in multiple countries.” Continue reading Justice Department Accuses Russian Spies of Cyberattacks

California Restores Net Neutrality Rules, Justice Dept. Sues

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law restoring net neutrality rules that the Trump administration had repealed. The law prevents broadband and wireless companies from blocking or throttling access to Internet content or charging for faster speeds to favor one website over another. The Department of Justice quickly stated it would sue California to block the new law, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions adding that, “under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce — the federal government does.” Continue reading California Restores Net Neutrality Rules, Justice Dept. Sues

State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

In a meeting of nine state officials and representatives of five other states led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the market dominance and privacy practices of large tech companies were discussed, as well as the possibility of a joint investigation of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and others. Attorney General Doug Peterson (R-Nebraska) said his state is examining just such a multi-state inquiry into antitrust and consumer protection issues. Potential political bias, a previously raised topic, was barely touched. Continue reading State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

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