Senators Grill Live Nation on Antitrust After the Swift Debacle

Anticompetitive practices, outrageous ticket fees and poor customer service were among the allegations leveled at Live Nation Entertainment Tuesday at a contentious Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing over botched Taylor Swift concert ticket presales by the company’s Ticketmaster subsidiary. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) called the Live Nation relationship to Ticketmaster “the definition of monopoly,” adding that venues fearful of losing the company’s concerts don’t have the ability to push back because Live Nation is “so powerful that it doesn’t even need to exert pressure, it doesn’t need to threaten because people just fall in line.” Continue reading Senators Grill Live Nation on Antitrust After the Swift Debacle

Apple Revises App Store Pricing Policy, Adding 700 Options

Apple has updated its App Store pricing in what some have interpreted as a preemptive move against regulatory and legal pressure over store policies. Apple is offering developers “700 additional price points and new pricing tools” to make it easier to set prices per App Store country or region and manage foreign exchange rate changes, among other things. The move brings the total number of available App Store price points to 900 and allows developers in the U.S. to set prices ranging from $0.29 to $10,000. The new policy is expected to roll out soon in global markets. Continue reading Apple Revises App Store Pricing Policy, Adding 700 Options

California Attorney General Files Antitrust Suit Against Amazon

California attorney general Rob Bonta has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, claiming the e-tailer has managed to bend competition and pricing to its will. Only about 25 million of Amazon’s 147 million U.S. customers are domiciled in California, but if the measure succeeds it could impact regulations across the country and across the globe. “For years, California consumers have paid more for their online purchases because of Amazon’s anticompetitive contracting practices,” Bonta said Wednesday. “Amazon’s market dominance, allowing the company to make increasingly untenable demands on its merchants,” resulted in “higher prices and more control.” Continue reading California Attorney General Files Antitrust Suit Against Amazon

‘Fortnite’ Metaverse Build-Out Gets iHeartLand Music Venue

Epic Games is getting another major venue in its “Fortnite” metaverse with an iHeartMedia digital headquarters. The complex, iHeartLand, includes a main stage, recording studio and game park. An interesting example of how virtual reality is mapping IRL commercially, the concert venue struck a naming rights deal with insurance company State Farm. In addition to avatar concerts, State Farm Park features a large screen that can display 2D performances, the format chosen by inaugural guest Charlie Puth for his September 9 show. Continue reading ‘Fortnite’ Metaverse Build-Out Gets iHeartLand Music Venue

FTC Develops New Antitrust Strategies for Taking on Big Tech

The Federal Trade Commission is taking an alternative approach to antitrust protections and Big Tech, focusing not on the ultimate harms of monopolies to consumers but rather the damage perpetrated by the giants inflicted on smaller companies that are often their partners. For an agency that since the mid-80s has focused its antitrust actions on the price-gouging or shoddy goods that usually result from consolidation, the new strategy may be an effective way to rein-in companies that offer their services free of charge, like Google and Facebook, or at what appears to be market rate, like Amazon. Continue reading FTC Develops New Antitrust Strategies for Taking on Big Tech

Judge Rules That FTC Can Proceed with Meta Antitrust Case

A federal judge has allowed a Federal Trade Commission antitrust lawsuit against Facebook to proceed, denying dismissal, a major victory for the agency as it gears up to take on Big Tech. The FTC claims the company, which since renamed itself Meta Platforms, accrued monopoly power and abused it by harming competition through an acquisitions strategy described as “buy or bury.” The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruling is seen as a warning to tech behemoths like Amazon, Apple and Google and the armies of lobbyists and lawyers employed to protect their interests. Continue reading Judge Rules That FTC Can Proceed with Meta Antitrust Case

Poll: U.S. Voters Favor Feds Regulating the Power of Big Tech

A poll conducted by the bipartisan Future of Tech Commission indicates that 80 percent of registered U.S. voters would like to see the federal government take a more aggressive approach to regulating tech giants. The poll found that respondents agreed the government “needs to do everything it can to curb the influence of Big Tech companies that have grown too powerful and now use our data to reach too far into our lives.” In addition, 84 percent of voters say they are “very nervous” about the effect social media has on children. The Commission hopes the findings will help persuade policymakers to regulate the power of Internet platforms. Continue reading Poll: U.S. Voters Favor Feds Regulating the Power of Big Tech

XCheck System Is Scrutinized by Facebook Oversight Board

Facebook’s semi-independent Oversight Board is scrutinizing the company’s XCheck (or cross-check) system, which permits famous or powerful users to be held to more lenient behavior rules than other users. The inquiry, which calls out “apparent inconsistencies” in the social media firm’s decision-making, follows an investigative report by The Wall Street Journal. XCheck was initially designed as a quality control system for sanctions against high-profile users, including celebrities, politicians and journalists. It eventually grew to encompass millions of accounts, some of whom were “whitelisted,” which rendered them immune from disciplinary actions. Continue reading XCheck System Is Scrutinized by Facebook Oversight Board

Judge Loosens Apple Stranglehold on App Developer Profits

Apple’s notoriously strict terms of doing business in its App Store appear to be loosening. A federal judge has ordered the company to allow developers to offer customers alternative payment methods after ruling that all payments go through Apple violate California’s unfair competition laws. Apple is ordered to within 90 days begin allowing developers to include in their apps payment links to processors other than the App Store. Developers now see a path to avoid handing Apple commissions of up to 30 percent for handling sales through the $100 billion online market.  Continue reading Judge Loosens Apple Stranglehold on App Developer Profits

Latest Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit Targets Google Play Store

Alphabet’s Google is being sued by a group of 36 states and the District of Columbia that claim the Big Tech company abuses its market dominance with the Google Play Store. Although it is the fourth such state or federal antitrust lawsuit filed against Google since October, this lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is the first to take aim directly at the tech giant’s app store. The other suits have focused on search and advertising. California, Utah, North Carolina, New York and Tennessee lead this suit. Continue reading Latest Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit Targets Google Play Store

Legislators Planning to Revamp Antitrust Laws for Digital Era

U.S. antitrust laws date back to the days of Big Oil. When a federal judge this week dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 states, experts called for a modernization of the laws themselves. The judge who dismissed the lawsuits said that the FTC didn’t prove its claim that Facebook was a monopoly and the states brought their case too long after Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) said the U.S. needs a “massive overhaul of our antitrust laws.” Continue reading Legislators Planning to Revamp Antitrust Laws for Digital Era

Court Dismisses FTC, States Antitrust Suit Against Facebook

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge James Boasberg dismissed antitrust lawsuits against social media giant Facebook brought by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 states. The judge said the states waited too long to bring up a case on deals made in 2012 and 2014 and that prosecutors failed to prove that Facebook holds a monopoly over social networking. The FTC can bring the case back in 30 days but the judge said it would require a lot more detail. Facebook’s stock rose 4.2 percent in the wake of the news. Continue reading Court Dismisses FTC, States Antitrust Suit Against Facebook

Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Address Dominance of Big Tech

The House unveiled five bills aimed at curbing Big Tech companies, including the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, that requires “structural separation of Amazon” and makes it illegal for an online platform to own a business that uses said platform for “the sale or provision of products or services,” that “sells services as a condition for access to the platform” or that “owns businesses that create conflicts of interest.” Another bill would ban platforms from giving advantage its own products and services over those of a rival. Continue reading Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Address Dominance of Big Tech

DC Files Lawsuit Against Amazon Alleging Antitrust Violations

Attorney general for the District of Columbia Karl Racine filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, claiming the tech giant abuses its monopoly power by artificially raising product prices. The suit adds that Amazon blocks vendors from charging lower prices for the same products elsewhere, which results in higher prices for these products on Amazon and other marketplaces. This marks the first time a U.S. government entity has filed a suit against Amazon. Racine stated that, “Amazon has used its dominant position in the online retail market to win at all costs.”

Continue reading DC Files Lawsuit Against Amazon Alleging Antitrust Violations

Apple Chief Exec Tim Cook Testifies in Trial with Epic Games

“Fortnite” creator Epic Games sued Apple over its 30 percent commission on all App Store transactions. That case is now in court, and Apple chief executive Tim Cook took the stand to defend his company against accusations of monopolistic behavior. On the sidelines are other companies with the same grievance and the European Union, which also charged Apple with violating antitrust rules with the App Store. In an hour of testimony, Cook stated that commissions from app developers help the company create better App Store security. Continue reading Apple Chief Exec Tim Cook Testifies in Trial with Epic Games