Justice Thomas Argues Big Tech Be Regulated Like Utilities

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that tech platforms be regulated like utilities, in a concurrence he wrote to a decision to vacate a lower court’s ruling about former President Trump’s Twitter account. “There is a fair argument that some digital platforms are sufficiently akin to common carriers or places of accommodation to be regulated in this manner,” he wrote. Regulating such platforms like utilities could force them to make changes to current moderation policies against hate speech and harassment. Continue reading Justice Thomas Argues Big Tech Be Regulated Like Utilities

Congress Grills Big Tech Executives on Accountability Issues

Prior to a House hearing on social media’s role in extremism and disinformation, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg submitted written testimony on Section 230, suggesting that “platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it.” Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act holds that platforms are not liable for content posted by their users. In a bipartisan effort, lawmakers are pushing for change. “Our nation is drowning in disinformation driven by social media,” suggested Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania). “We will legislate to stop this.” Continue reading Congress Grills Big Tech Executives on Accountability Issues

CES: Industry Experts Discuss the Cryptocurrency Landscape

Cryptocurrency entrepreneurs convened in early December to record The Cryptocurrency Landscape session that CES 2021 released today. Panelists discussed how Wyoming has established legal and regulatory protocols for Bitcoin to make cryptocurrency activities compatible with existing banking regulations. They also discussed how institutions and businesses are getting more comfortable with cryptocurrency investments, how online payment services such as PayPal and Venmo have added Bitcoin to their transaction options, and how cryptocurrency’s provable scarcity makes it more attractive to investors and the general public as countries issue more currency to prop up their economies during the COVID shutdown. Continue reading CES: Industry Experts Discuss the Cryptocurrency Landscape

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

Canadian Law Would Impose Levy on All Streaming Services

Canada would like to levy a portion of online streaming services’ revenue to help fund domestic TV and music production. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and others would be required to meet Canadian benchmarks, such as more content to serve its French-speaking and indigenous populations. According to Canada’s broadcast regulator, streaming services’ annual revenue is about $5 billion in Canadian dollars or $3.77 billion U.S. Canada seeks “nearly C$1 billion” a year from streaming services. Continue reading Canadian Law Would Impose Levy on All Streaming Services

Chinese Regulators Suspend Ant IPO, Legislate New Hurdles

China put a halt to Ant Group’s two initial public offerings, leaving investors, employees and shareholders in a state of shock. The IPOs, described as “heavily oversubscribed,” was expected to raise at least $334.4 billion. The first inkling that things were going off the rails came Wednesday when some investors were informed their orders were canceled and monies would be refunded. The Shanghai Stock Exchange suspended the scheduled November 5 IPO, saying Ant might not be in compliance with new fintech regulations. Continue reading Chinese Regulators Suspend Ant IPO, Legislate New Hurdles

European Union, U.K. Seek New Ways to Regulate Big Tech

After failing to have much of an impact on Google with its $8+ billion fine, the European Union devised new regulations, the Digital Services Act (DSA), to rein in Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The new strategy is to create basic rules for data-sharing and digital markets operations. The U.S. is preparing another case against Google, and the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is calling for a “new pro-competition regulatory regime” to control Facebook, Google and other Big Tech companies. Continue reading European Union, U.K. Seek New Ways to Regulate Big Tech

Big Tech Companies Pull Back on Facial Recognition Products

After years of dissent from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Fight for the Future and groups of academics, Big Tech companies are finally taking another look at their facial recognition products. Microsoft president Brad Smith stated his company won’t sell facial recognition to the police until federal regulation is instituted. Amazon placed a one-year moratorium on police use of its Rekognition software, and IBM backed away entirely from facial recognition products, citing the potential for abuse. Yesterday we reported that Congress introduced a police reform bill that includes limits on the use of facial recognition software. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Pull Back on Facial Recognition Products

Facial Recognition Paused While Congress Considers Reform

In the wake of protests over police brutality, senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Kamala Harris (D-California) and representatives Karen Bass (D-California) and Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) introduced a police reform bill in the House of Representatives that includes limits on the use of facial recognition software. But not everyone is pleased. ACLU senior legislative counsel Neema Guliani, for example, pointed to the fact that facial recognition algorithms are typically not as accurate on darker skin shades. Continue reading Facial Recognition Paused While Congress Considers Reform

EU Commissioner Holds Facebook Liable For Disinformation

European commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton advised Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg that, if he and his company do not redouble efforts to rid the platform of disinformation, they will be subject to tougher rules. “When you are the [chief executive], at the end of the day, you are the only one to be responsible, no one else,” said Breton at an online event organized by the Centre on Regulation in Europe (CERRE).  The two had a face-to-face meeting two months ago in Brussels. Continue reading EU Commissioner Holds Facebook Liable For Disinformation

The Dark Side of Big Tech’s Accumulation of Power, Wealth

Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are valued together at $4+ trillion, with the six surviving founders of four of these companies worth $450 billion, noted Forbes, adding that these valuations have quintupled since 2009. The technology coming out of these companies has also been powerful, from smartphones to ride-sharing. Currently, tech accounts for seven of the top 10 worldwide companies by market cap. This wealth accumulation hasn’t been seen since Standard Oil at the turn of the 20th Century. Continue reading The Dark Side of Big Tech’s Accumulation of Power, Wealth

Apple Chief Tim Cook Calls For National Data Regulations

Apple chief executive Tim Cook stated that, because tech companies haven’t self-policed their use of data, “it’s time to have rigorous regulation.” Although he also warned that regulators are too focused on breaking up the Big Tech companies, he admitted that “if one of the companies is found to be a monopoly, and regulators can prove they’ve abused that monopoly power, a breakup might be necessary.” Pew Research reported that about 60 percent of Americans believe their data is being collected on a daily basis. Continue reading Apple Chief Tim Cook Calls For National Data Regulations

FCC Formally Approves the Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

The Federal Communications Commission approved the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint yesterday, months after the Justice Department gave its approval. FCC chair Ajit Pai and Republican commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly indicated their support of the deal in May, believing that it would lead to a faster deployment of 5G. Democrats voted against the merger, and commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel argued that it would lead to higher prices and less innovation, ultimately impacting consumers. A coalition of state attorneys general are still attempting to prevent the merger with a multistate lawsuit. Continue reading FCC Formally Approves the Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

OECD Aims to Regulate Where Online Companies Pay Taxes

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has devised a proposal to prevent digital giants such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook from avoiding paying taxes. The proposal, which would allow countries to tax such big multinational firms even if they did not operate there, would enable new taxes on all kinds of multinational companies — not just tech firms — that operate online. As of now, many of these digital companies avoid heavier taxes by moving profits to countries with low tax rates. Continue reading OECD Aims to Regulate Where Online Companies Pay Taxes

EU Court Rules Facebook Can Be Forced to Delete Content

The European Court of Justice ruled that its national court could force Facebook to globally remove a post ruled to be illegal or defamatory. The ruling arose from a suit filed by Austrian politician Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, who objected to online comments that she was a “lousy traitor,” “corrupt oaf” and member of a “fascist party.” An Austrian court ruled the comments were defamatory, and she demanded that Facebook remove the comments and equivalent ones, not just in Austria but worldwide. Continue reading EU Court Rules Facebook Can Be Forced to Delete Content

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