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

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Will Step Down as CEO on July 5

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will officially leave his position as chief executive on July 5, and Amazon Web Services chief executive Andy Jassy will take over the Amazon CEO position. The departure of Bezos was originally announced in a February earnings report but a specific date was not revealed. Bezos said July 5 is “sentimental” because it was the date Amazon was incorporated in 1994. Bezos will become executive chair, focusing his attention on “new products and early initiatives.” He said he expects Jassy to be “an outstanding leader.” Continue reading Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Will Step Down as CEO on July 5

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

U.S. Will Remove Chinese Phone Maker Xiaomi From Blacklist

The U.S. Defense Department removed Xiaomi from a blacklist preventing U.S. investment in the Chinese tech company, an action taken during the Trump administration that alleged the company had ties with the Chinese military. Two months ago, in a Washington D.C. court, a judge criticized the rationale behind the blacklisting and ordered a temporary halt against its enforcement. Xiaomi shares rose 6.1 percent in Hong Kong following the news. TikTok and WeChat also found redress against Trump-era actions against them. Continue reading U.S. Will Remove Chinese Phone Maker Xiaomi From Blacklist

Amazon Plans for HQ2 Include Helix Tower, Outdoors Theme

Amazon has unveiled plans for its HQ2 complex to be located in northern Virginia and accommodate about 13,000 employees with “room for more.” The “centerpiece” is the Helix, a 350-foot tower featuring two spiraling walkways with native plants and trees that twist to the building’s highest point. The development, which highlights an “outdoors theme,” also includes three 22-story office buildings, smaller retail buildings in a woodsy setting, an outdoor amphitheater, a dog run and parking for about 950 bicycles. Continue reading Amazon Plans for HQ2 Include Helix Tower, Outdoors Theme

Judge Greenlights Facebook’s $5B Agreement With the FTC

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge Timothy Kelly approved a deal reached last summer whereby Facebook will pay a $5 billion fine to settle with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook will also be restricted in some of its business decisions and will be subject to ongoing oversight. Facebook chief privacy officer for product Michel Protti noted that the agreement “has already brought fundamental changes to our company.” Continue reading Judge Greenlights Facebook’s $5B Agreement With the FTC

CES 2020: Experts Say AI Leadership Not Zero Sum Game

Congressional candidate Darrell Issa opened a CES session on the global race for AI leadership by warning that this is an “existential threat to employment and national security.” “On the commercial side, whoever owns AI will own the industrial revolution,” he said. “If you’re leading AI, it’s about how many jobs you’ll gain. Whoever leads in AI will also lead in weapons systems that will matter for as long as this planet survives. This isn’t science fiction and it isn’t the future — it’s now.” Continue reading CES 2020: Experts Say AI Leadership Not Zero Sum Game

CES 2020: (Finally) a Fireside Chat With FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Following a discussion with FTC chair Joseph Simons, CTA chair/chief executive Gary Shapiro welcomed FCC chair Ajit Pai who has tried unsuccessfully to speak at CES for the last two years. Since the change in net neutrality laws, which met with a lot of pushback, noted Pai, “speeds are up, broadband infrastructure is up, more fiber was laid in 2019 than in any other year.” “We often heard that this was the end of the Internet,” Pai said. “But more Americans get faster Internet than ever before.” Continue reading CES 2020: (Finally) a Fireside Chat With FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey revealed yesterday that the social platform would ban all political advertisements. Dorsey believes such content has “significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” and that manipulated videos and the spread of misinformation are creating challenges at an “overwhelming scale.” The move adds another layer to the debate over online advertising, social media and free speech — especially in the political arena — and increases the pressure on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider his laissez-faire approach. Continue reading Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Tech Giants Ramp Up Lobbying as Legal Probes Continue

As lawmakers investigate Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google for antitrust violations, these tech giants are boosting their spending on lobbying. Amazon spent $12.4 million, a 16 percent increase. In the first nine months of 2019, Facebook spent $12.3 million, almost 25 percent more than the same period last year. Apple and Microsoft increased their outlay, by 8 percent and 9 percent respectively. Although parent company Alphabet reduced spending on lobbying by 41 percent, Google spent $9.8 million through September 30. Continue reading Tech Giants Ramp Up Lobbying as Legal Probes Continue

Bipartisan Group of Attorneys General to Investigate Google

A bipartisan group of attorneys general representing 48 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, led by Ken Paxton (R-Texas), announced an investigation of Google, initially focusing on the tech behemoth’s practices in online advertising. “But the facts will lead where the facts lead,” said Paxton, who made the announcement from the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. “We don’t know all the answers,” he added. The states just subpoenaed Google for information on its advertising business practices. Continue reading Bipartisan Group of Attorneys General to Investigate Google

Broadcasters File Federal Suit to Stop TV Streamer Locast

CBS, Disney’s ABC, Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Fox are suing non-profit streaming service Locast in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. Locast, funded in part by AT&T, retransmits local television stations without permission, free to consumers. The Supreme Court shut down Aereo, which streamed content without permission in 2014. Locast says its status is legal under the Copyright Act of 1976, because, unlike Aereo, it is a non-profit operating “booster” and “translator stations” that strengthen a TV station’s signal. Continue reading Broadcasters File Federal Suit to Stop TV Streamer Locast

Ford, VW Collaborate on Autonomous and Electric Vehicles

Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are extending their seven-month-old alliance to include collaborating on self-driving and electric car technology. In a joint statement today, the companies announced that Volkswagen would invest $2.6 billion in Ford’s autonomous-vehicle partner Argo AI by providing $1 billion in funding and contributing its Audi $1.6 billion Autonomous Intelligent Driving unit, based in Munich. In 2017, Ford invested $1 billion in Pittsburgh-based autonomous vehicle startup Argo. Once the Ford-VW deal is finalized, Argo’s value is expected to reach $7 billion. Continue reading Ford, VW Collaborate on Autonomous and Electric Vehicles

Hyperloop Projects Bring New Travel Tech Closer to Reality

Hyperloop technology — which relies on magnetic levitation, steel tubs and vacuum pumps — is one way that hopeful technologists promise to improve the travel experience. Most recently, a Missouri congressman proposed a hyperloop between Kansas City, Missouri and St. Louis, which would take 30 minutes to travel 250 miles. In Las Vegas, Nevada, Elon Musk’s The Boring Company (TBC) landed its first commercial contract, for $48.7 million, to build a “people mover” that would shuttle people around the city’s Convention Center, expected to be ready for CES 2021. Continue reading Hyperloop Projects Bring New Travel Tech Closer to Reality

Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Moving Forward With 5G Service

At a J.P. Morgan investment conference, Verizon chief executive Hans Vestberg revealed that the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is performing at 1.5 Gigabits per second. The caveat is that, per Ookla Speedtest, the company is “tightly curating” the test for reviewers, including a testing site outside of Motorola’s offices and other locations adjacent to its 5G hardware. Meanwhile, Sprint stated that it will turn on 5G in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City on May 31; it opened up preorders for 5G devices on May 17. And AT&T is offering 5G to business customers in 19 cities. Continue reading Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Moving Forward With 5G Service

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