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Paul Merrell

Facebook's Marketplace Faces Antitrust Probes in EU, U.K. - WSJ - 0 views

  • The European Union and the U.K. opened formal antitrust investigations into Facebook Inc.’s FB -0.86% classified-ads service Marketplace, ramping up regulatory scrutiny for the company in Europe. Both the European Commission—the EU’s top antitrust enforcer—and the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority said Friday they are investigating whether Facebook repurposes data it gathers from advertisers who buy ads in order to give illegal advantages to its own services, including its Marketplace online flea market. The U.K. added that it is also investigating whether Facebook uses advertiser data to give similar advantages to its online-dating service. The two competition watchdogs said they would coordinate their investigations.
  • Separately on Friday, Germany’s competition regulator announced that it is opening an investigation into Google’s News Showcase, in which the tech company pays to license certain content from news publishers. That probe, which is based on new powers Germany had granted the regulator, will look among other things at whether Google is imposing unfair conditions on publishers and how it selects participants, the Federal Cartel Office said.
  • The three newly opened cases are part of a new wave of antitrust enforcement in Europe. The European Commission filed formal charges last month against Apple Inc. for allegedly abusing its control over the distribution of music-streaming apps, including Spotify Technology SA . In November, it filed formal charges against Amazon.com Inc. for allegedly using nonpublic data it gathers from third-party sellers to unfairly compete against them. Both companies denied wrongdoing. At the same time, the U.K.’s CMA has opened investigations into Google’s announcement that it will retire third-party cookies, a technology advertisers use to track web users, and whether Apple imposes anticompetitive conditions on some app developers, including the use of Apple’s in-app payment system, which is also the subject of a lawsuit in the U.S. In the EU, the European Commission has been investigating Facebook for more than a year on multiple fronts. Facebook and the Commission have squabbled over access to internal documents as part of those investigations.
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  • New York State Attorney General Letitia James outlined in December a sweeping antitrust suit against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and a bipartisan group of 46 state attorneys general, targeting the company’s tactics against competitors. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images (Video from 12/9/20)
Paul Merrell

How Silicon Valley, in a Show of Monopolistic Force, Destroyed Parler - Glenn Greenwald - 1 views

  • As Silicon Valley censorship radically escalated over the past several months — banning pre-election reporting by The New York Post about the Biden family, denouncing and deleting multiple posts from the U.S. President and then terminating his access altogether, mass-removal of right-wing accounts — so many people migrated to Parler that it was catapulted to the number one spot on the list of most-downloaded apps on the Apple Play Store, the sole and exclusive means which iPhone users have to download apps. “Overall, the app was the 10th most downloaded social media app in 2020 with 8.1 million new installs,” reported TechCrunch.It looked as if Parler had proven critics of Silicon Valley monopolistic power wrong. Their success showed that it was possible after all to create a new social media platform to compete with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And they did so by doing exactly what Silicon Valley defenders long insisted should be done: if you don’t like the rules imposed by tech giants, go create your own platform with different rules.
  • But today, if you want to download, sign up for, or use Parler, you will be unable to do so. That is because three Silicon Valley monopolies — Amazon, Google and Apple — abruptly united to remove Parler from the internet, exactly at the moment when it became the most-downloaded app in the country. If one were looking for evidence to demonstrate that these tech behemoths are, in fact, monopolies that engage in anti-competitive behavior in violation of antitrust laws, and will obliterate any attempt to compete with them in the marketplace, it would be difficult to imagine anything more compelling than how they just used their unconstrained power to utterly destroy a rising competitor.
Paul Merrell

House Lawmakers Condemn Big Tech's 'Monopoly Power' and Urge Their Breakups - The New Y... - 0 views

  • House lawmakers who spent the last 16 months investigating the practices of the world’s largest technology companies said on Tuesday that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google had exercised and abused their monopoly power and called for the most sweeping changes to antitrust laws in half a century.In a 449-page report that was presented by the House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic leadership, lawmakers said the four companies had turned from “scrappy” start-ups into “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.” The lawmakers said the companies had abused their dominant positions, setting and often dictating prices and rules for commerce, search, advertising, social networking and publishing.The House ReportRead the full report here »
  • To amend the inequities, the lawmakers recommended restoring competition by effectively breaking up the companies, emboldening the agencies that police market concentration and throwing up hurdles for the companies to acquire start-ups. They also proposed reforming antitrust laws, in the biggest potential shift since the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act of 1976 created stronger reviews of big mergers.
Paul Merrell

4 Key Takeaways From Washington's Big Tech Hearing On 'Monopoly Power' : NPR - 0 views

  • Here are some key takeaways from the hearing:
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    Hearing was held by video-conference. Not much of substance came out of it. Still, the subcommittee has employed some high-power investigators who have spent hundreds of hours pawing through these companies' documents. I look for more substantive disclosures later.
Paul Merrell

Google's web app plans collide with Apple's iPhone, Safari rules - CNET - 0 views

  • Google and Apple, which already battle over mobile operating systems, are opening a new front in their fight. How that plays out may determine the future of the web. Google was born on the web, and its business reflects its origin. The company depends on the web for search and advertising revenue. So it isn't a surprise that Google sees the web as key to the future of software. Front and center are web apps, interactive websites with the same power as conventional apps that run natively on operating systems like Windows, Android, MacOS and iOS.  Apple has a different vision of the future, one that plays to its strengths. The company revolutionized mobile computing with its iPhone line. Its profits depend on those products and the millions of apps that run on them. Apple, unsurprisingly, appears less excited about developments, like web apps, that could cut into its earnings.
Paul Merrell

Facebook probe by U.S. states expands to 47 attorneys general - Reuters - 0 views

  • A New York-led probe into allegations that Facebook Inc put consumer data at risk and pushed up advertising rates has expanded to include attorneys general from 47 U.S. states and territories, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Tuesday.
  • The investigation of Facebook announced in September had included Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. It now includes most U.S. states as well as the U.S. territory of Guam.
  • Some states, particularly New York and Nebraska, have raised concerns that Facebook and other big tech companies engage in anti-competitive practices, expose consumer data to potential data theft and push up advertising prices.
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  • The Facebook investigations are part of a larger landscape of probes of big tech firms. Reuters and others reported in June that the Justice Department and FTC had divided responsibility for the companies being investigated, with the Justice Department taking on Alphabet Inc’s Google and Apple Inc while the FTC looked into Facebook and Amazon.com Inc. The Justice Department later said it was opening a probe of online platforms, which would include Facebook.
Paul Merrell

U.S., allies urge Facebook for backdoor to encryption as they fight child abuse - Reuters - 1 views

  • The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have called on Facebook Inc to not go ahead with end-to-end encryption across its messaging services unless law enforcement officials have backdoor access, saying encryption hindered the fight against child abuse and terrorism.
  • The United States and United Kingdom also signed a special data agreement that would fast track requests from law enforcement to technology companies for information about the communications of terrorists and child predators. Law enforcement could get information in weeks or even days instead of the current wait of six months to two years. The latest tug-of-war between governments and tech companies over user data could also impact Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Microsoft Corp, as well as smaller encrypted chat apps like Signal.
Paul Merrell

States to launch antitrust investigation into big tech companies, reports say | TechCrunch - 2 views

  • The state attorneys in more than a dozen states are preparing to begin an antitrust investigation of the tech giants, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported Monday, putting the spotlight on an industry that is already facing federal scrutiny.The bipartisan group of attorneys from as many as 20 states is expected to formally launch a probe as soon as next month to assess whether tech companies are using their dominant market position to hurt competition, the WSJ reported.If true, the move follows the Department of Justice, which last month announced its own antitrust review of how online platforms scaled to their gigantic sizes and whether they are using their power to curb competition and stifle innovation. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission formed a task force to monitor competition among tech platforms.
Paul Merrell

Explainer: What Google, Facebook could face in U.S. antitrust probe - Reuters - 0 views

  • The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether big technology companies are engaged in anticompetitive behavior, addressing a rising tide of criticism they have become too powerful to the detriment of consumers.
  • The Justice Department has said it will investigate “whether and how” online platforms in “search, social media, and some retail services online” are engaging in behavior that stifles competition and harms consumers. While the Justice Department did not name any targets in announcing the probe on Tuesday, sources have indicated Alphabet Inc’s Google, social media giant Facebook Inc, online retailer Amazon.com Inc and possibly Apple Inc will likely be reviewed. Here’s what regulators could focus on at the big technology companies:
Paul Merrell

EXCLUSIVE: Edward Snowden Explains Why Apple Should Continue To Fight the Government on... - 0 views

  • As the Obama administration campaign to stop the commercialization of strong encryption heats up, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden is firing back on behalf of the companies like Apple and Google that are finding themselves under attack. “Technologists and companies working to protect ordinary citizens should be applauded, not sued or prosecuted,” Snowden wrote in an email through his lawyer. Snowden was asked by The Intercept to respond to the contentious suggestion — made Thursday on a blog that frequently promotes the interests of the national security establishment — that companies like Apple and Google might in certain cases be found legally liable for providing material aid to a terrorist organization because they provide encryption services to their users.
  • In his email, Snowden explained how law enforcement officials who are demanding that U.S. companies build some sort of window into unbreakable end-to-end encryption — he calls that an “insecurity mandate” — haven’t thought things through. “The central problem with insecurity mandates has never been addressed by its proponents: if one government can demand access to private communications, all governments can,” Snowden wrote. “No matter how good the reason, if the U.S. sets the precedent that Apple has to compromise the security of a customer in response to a piece of government paper, what can they do when the government is China and the customer is the Dalai Lama?”
  • Weakened encryption would only drive people away from the American technology industry, Snowden wrote. “Putting the most important driver of our economy in a position where they have to deal with the devil or lose access to international markets is public policy that makes us less competitive and less safe.”
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  • FBI Director James Comey and others have repeatedly stated that law enforcement is “going dark” when it comes to the ability to track bad actors’ communications because of end-to-end encrypted messages, which can only be deciphered by the sender and the receiver. They have never provided evidence for that, however, and have put forth no technologically realistic alternative. Meanwhile, Apple and Google are currently rolling out user-friendly end-to-end encryption for their customers, many of whom have demanded greater privacy protections — especially following Snowden’s disclosures.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

American cultural imperialism has a new name: GAFA - Quartz - 0 views

  • In France, there’s a new word on everyone’s lips: GAFA. It’s an acronym, and it has become a shorthand term for some of the most powerful companies in the world—all American, all tech giants. GAFA stands for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.
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    [In France, there's a new word on everyone's lips: GAFA. It's an acronym, and it has become a shorthand term for some of the most powerful companies in the world-all American, all tech giants. GAFA stands for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. ...]
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    [In France, there's a new word on everyone's lips: GAFA. It's an acronym, and it has become a shorthand term for some of the most powerful companies in the world-all American, all tech giants. GAFA stands for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. ...]
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Apple and Google move computing forward in identical-yet-incompatible ways | Ars Technica - 0 views

Paul Merrell

White House Plans to Reverse Bush Antitrust Rules - washingtonpost.com - 0 views

  • The Obama administration today said it would reverse rules made during the Bush administration that made it difficult to stop anticompetitive business behavior.
  • Over the past couple weeks, antitrust regulators have launched reviews of online giant Google. The DOJ is investigating a settlement Google made with book publishers and authors. And the FTC is reviewing the board ties between Google and Apple, which some antitrust experts argue are competitors.
Paul Merrell

Google Quietly Drops iPhone Optimized iGoogle Page - 0 views

  • I reported this morning at the Search Engine Roundtable that Google seems to have quietly dropped the iPhone version of the iGoogle page. The iPhone iGoogle page used to be at google.com/ig/i, but when iPhone users navigate to google.com/ig/i they are redirected to the standard mobile iGoogle page at google.com/m/ig. Google said the reason they dropped the iPhone version was because they “want to ensure you’ll all see the same version” of the iGoogle mobile page. But Google made no official announcement on this change.
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    Android's leader marches away from iPhone territory.
Gary Edwards

The Future of Mobile Software - RoughlyDrafted Magazine - 0 views

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    The software business is going mobile. That shift will present new challenges but also new opportunities for developers. Appleboy Daniel Eran Dilger explains how the mobile market has evolved into being today's promising next frontier for new software models. This is a good article even though it falls flat and short comparing "desktop-sync" to the emerging "cloud-sync" model. Cloud-sync is vital to workgroup oriented business processes. The problem with desktop-sync being that any kind of conversion-sync process took documents out of the application centric business process. It's a big issue begging for recognition, but given short shrift by Daniel. He also misses the all important role of the Web in the evolution of smartphones. Without 3G-4G Web wireless, there is no such thing as a "smartphone".
Gary Edwards

Runtime wars (2): Apple's answer to Flash, Silverlight and JavaFX « counterno... - 0 views

  • Apple’s Trojan horse in multi-platform, multimedia runtime is a piece of open source technology that’s already on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Adobe Flex/AIR, iPhone, iPod touch, Nokia S60 smartphones and Google’s new Android/Open Handset Alliance, with 30+ partners around the globe: WebKit 3.0.
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    WebKit is Apple's Trojan Horse! Excellent introduction to WebKit presented in the context of Adobe and Microsoft RiA's.
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