How the DOJ Antitrust Publishing Lawsuit Relates to Amazon

The nation’s largest publisher, Penguin Random House, was in federal court this week to defend itself against the Justice Department, which filed an antitrust lawsuit to block its acquisition of Simon & Schuster. The DOJ has been increasingly focused on antitrust and is hiring more trial lawyers in preparation for an action against Alphabet’s Google for its dominance in search and digital advertising. Although ostensibly on trial for threatening to shrink the number of American mass-market publishers from five to four, the Penguin suit also involves examination of the retail power of Amazon. Continue reading How the DOJ Antitrust Publishing Lawsuit Relates to Amazon

Google Updates Play Store Policies to Protect Android Users

Google has updated its developer Play Store policies with an aim toward tamping down intrusive ads and other unpleasant consumer experiences, such as VPN abuse and brand impersonation on Android. Full-screen interstitial ads of all formats (video, GIF, static, etc.) that display unexpectedly — that often lead to users engaging with something else — are forbidden effective September 22. Likewise, apps that allow ads at the beginning of a game level or during the beginning of a game content segment are on the robust list of infractions the Play Store will no longer tolerate. Continue reading Google Updates Play Store Policies to Protect Android Users

Amazon Offers Concessions to Call Off EU’s Antitrust Probes

In the wake of the European Union’s strict new digital-competition laws, Amazon has proposed settlements in two EU antitrust cases. The U.S.-based e-commerce giant says it will stop using non-public data it obtains from the activities of independent sellers on its marketplace to inform its own business decisions in competition with those sellers. A separate investigation found Amazon to be self-dealing with regard to its Buy Box and Prime plans, resulting in a commitment to give third-party sellers equal treatment. The commitments would remain in force for five years, monitored by a trustee reporting to the European Commission. Continue reading Amazon Offers Concessions to Call Off EU’s Antitrust Probes

European Union Digital Markets Act Creates Cloud Concerns

Antitrust scrutiny under the European Union’s new Digital Markets Act is causing concern among U.S.-based cloud services providers. Cost-savings for clients who bundle services are not unusual in the cloud sector, and while some clients prefer using multiple cloud vendors, others want to take advantage of discounts. As enterprise continues to shift operations to the cloud, packages from Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Cloud find themselves subject to criticism in what some say is nothing less than a regulatory assault on vertical integration. Continue reading European Union Digital Markets Act Creates Cloud Concerns

Under Antitrust Scrutiny, Google Could Spinoff Its Adtech Biz

Battling new antitrust action by the U.S. Department of Justice, Google is offering to separate part of its adtech business into a discrete unit. The new Alphabet company would focus on app dissemination and programmatic auctions for advertising space and could potentially be worth billions of dollars. It is not known whether the move would satisfy the DOJ, which is reportedly prepping a fresh antitrust suit in the wake of a 2020 action. Google is also the target of antitrust investigations by state attorneys general and under EU and UK inquiries for anticompetitive measures. Continue reading Under Antitrust Scrutiny, Google Could Spinoff Its Adtech Biz

UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority opened an antitrust investigation last week into Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard takeover, analyzing whether the deal could harm competition “for example, through higher prices, lower quality, or reduced choice.” The inquiry was announced the same day the CMA said it is looking into Amazon’s use of data from third-party sellers. In January, Microsoft shared plans to purchase Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion — a record-setting price for a tech acquisition — with a planned fiscal 2023 close. The CMA has set September 1 as the deadline for its initial decision. Continue reading UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

Elon Musk Notifies Twitter of Plan to Cancel Acquisition Deal

Elon Musk is attempting to terminate his $44 billion deal to acquire social giant Twitter. Musk’s attorneys claimed in a regulatory filing that Twitter was in “material breach of multiple provisions” of the purchase agreement and “appears to have made false and misleading representations.” According to Twitter board chairman Bret Taylor, “The Twitter board is committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk and plans to pursue legal action to enforce the merger agreement.” The deal includes a $1 billion “breakup fee” and the company can hold the billionaire to his original agreement by taking him to court. Continue reading Elon Musk Notifies Twitter of Plan to Cancel Acquisition Deal

EU Checks Power of Big Tech with Digital Services Regulation

The European Parliament has adopted two digital acts, one focused on leveling the competitive playing field, the other on protecting consumer rights online. The Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act are both expected to take effect this fall, after the European Commission signs off. “We are finally building a single digital market, the most important one in the ‘free world,’” EU commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton said Tuesday. “The same predictable rules will apply, everywhere in the EU, for our 450 million citizens, bringing everyone a safer and fairer digital space.” Continue reading EU Checks Power of Big Tech with Digital Services Regulation

EU Advances Crypto Regulation in Face of Small Investor Pain

The decentralization that promised to make cryptocurrencies accessible, transparent, and an everyman’s investment dream has turned into a nightmare for many. While professional investors have largely done well shorting blockchain stock, other individuals haven’t been as successful. Fortune wrote of “crypto carnage” in a market that has so far lost $1 trillion in this year’s market selloffs. Bitcoin has lost about 50 percent of its market value this year, while Ethereum has fallen by 56 percent since January. Last week, the European Union advanced a framework for crypto-assets that includes consumer protection and safeguards against cybercrime. Continue reading EU Advances Crypto Regulation in Face of Small Investor Pain

Facebook Shutters Nearby Friends and Other Data Collection

Facebook is ending its Nearby Friends feature and halting other location-tracking data collection. Location history, background location and Weather Alerts will be discontinued globally due to “low usage.” The change reflects consumers’ increased caution over personal data and movement tracking. The Meta Platforms unit says as of May 31 the features will stop collecting information, and by August 1 previously collected location history and background location data will be deleted. Users can log in to Facebook before August 1 to view or download their data. Continue reading Facebook Shutters Nearby Friends and Other Data Collection

EU Advances Digital Services Act to Hold Tech Accountable

The European Parliament and EU member states reached agreement Saturday on the proposed Digital Services Act, which aims to hold Big Tech accountable for “illegal and harmful content” and “provide better protection for Internet users and their fundamental rights, as well as define a single set of rules in the internal market.” Calling the DSA “historic, both in terms of speed and of substance,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen added, “the greater the size, the greater the responsibilities of online platforms.” Companies like Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and others will be forced to hold the line against dangerous content and misinformation or face stiff fines. Continue reading EU Advances Digital Services Act to Hold Tech Accountable

Obama Takes Up Mantle of Social Media Regulatory Oversight

Former President Barack Obama sounded a warning against unregulated Big Tech in a speech last week at Stanford University near Palo Alto, California. Cautioning that the power of social media giants to curate information has “turbocharged” political polarization, Obama said the imbalance of power threatened the very pillars of global democracy itself. “Tech companies need to be more transparent about how they operate,” Obama said. “So much of the conversation around disinformation is focused on what people post. The bigger issue is what content these platforms promote.”  Continue reading Obama Takes Up Mantle of Social Media Regulatory Oversight

Cryptocurrency Market Faces Challenges While Stocks Spiral

Although the cryptocurrency known as stablecoin has garnered mainstream attention recently, with the Biden administration’s call for federal guidelines, critics warn that a subset known as “algorithmic stablecoin” is a crisis in the making. Meanwhile, specific crypto brands like Bitcoin and Ethereum have seen prices drop — Bitcoin below the $40,000 per unit mark, while Ethereum shares dipped below $3,000. In fact, the entire cryptocurrency market is reported to have lost about $400 billion in April as part of what’s being described as “selloff mode.” Continue reading Cryptocurrency Market Faces Challenges While Stocks Spiral

AI Laws Becoming Decentralized with Cities First to Regulate

With the federal government still in the early phase of regulating artificial intelligence, cities and states are stepping in as they begin to actively deploy AI. While managing traffic patterns is straightforward, when it comes to policing and hiring practices, precautions must be taken to guard against algorithmic bias inherited from training data. The challenges are formidable. As with human reasoning, it is often difficult to trace the logic behind a machine’s decisions, making it challenging to identify a fix. Municipalities are evaluating different solutions, the goal being to prevent programmatic marginalization. Continue reading AI Laws Becoming Decentralized with Cities First to Regulate

U.S. Lawmakers Target Stablecoin in Cryptocurrency Debate

Washington policymakers have identified stablecoins as the initial target for stricter cryptocurrency regulation. Stablecoins — which are backed by a reserve asset — are booming due to investors using them to trade among other cryptocurrencies. The stablecoin sector grew by about 500 percent in the 12-month period ending October 31, according to a report issued by the Biden administration. While there are four basic types of stablecoin, the ones collateralized by fiat currency — and specifically the U.S. dollar — is by far the most popular. A bipartisan effort exists to create safeguards ensuring one stablecoin is expeditiously redeemable for one dollar. Continue reading U.S. Lawmakers Target Stablecoin in Cryptocurrency Debate