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Paul Merrell

Trump Declares War On Silicon Valley: DoJ Launches Google Anti-Monopoly Probe | Zero Hedge - 0 views

  • Just before midnight on Friday, at the close of what was a hectic month for markets, WSJ dropped a bombshell of a story: The paper reported that the DoJ has opened an anti-trust investigation of Alphabet Inc., which could "present a major new layer of regulatory scrutiny for the search giant, according to people familiar with the matter." The report was sourced to "people familiar with the matter," but was swiftly corroborated by the New York Times, Bloomberg and others. For months now, the FTC has appeared to be gearing up for a showdown with big tech. The agency - which shares anti-trust authority with the DoJ - has created a new commission that could help undo big-tech tie-ups like Facebook's acquisition of Instagram, and hired lawyers who have advanced new anti-monopoly theories that would help justify the breakup of companies like Amazon. But as it turns out, the Trump administration's first salvo against big tech didn't come from the FTC; instead, this responsibility has been delegated to the DoJ, which has reportedly been tasked with supervising the investigation into Google. That's not super surprising, since the FTC already had its chance to nail Google with an anti-monopoly probe back in 2013. But the agency came up short. From what we can tell, it appears the administration will divvy up responsibility for any future anti-trust investigations between the two agencies, which means the FTC - which is already reportedly preparing to levy a massive fine against Facebook - could end up taking the lead in those cases.
  • Though WSJ didn't specify which aspects of Google's business might come under the microscope, a string of multi-billion-euro fines recently levied by the EU might offer some guidance. The bloc's anti-trust authority, which has been far more eager to take on American tech giants than its American counterpart (for reasons that should be obvious to all), has fined Google over its practice of bundling software with its standard Android license, the way its search engine rankings favor its own product listings, and ways it has harmed competition in the digital advertising market. During the height of the controversy over big tech's abuses of sensitive user data last year, the Verge published a story speculating about how the monopolistic tendencies of each of the dominant Silicon Valley tech giants could be remedied. For Google, the Verge argued, the best remedy would be a ban on acquisitions - a strategy that has been bandied about in Congress.
Paul Merrell

U.S. looking at ways to hold Zuckerberg accountable for Facebook's problems - 0 views

  • Federal regulators are discussing whether and how to hold Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg personally accountable for the company's history of mismanaging users' private data, two sources familiar with the discussions told NBC News on Thursday.The sources wouldn't elaborate on what measures are specifically under consideration. The Washington Post, which first reported the development, reported that regulators were exploring increased oversight of Zuckerberg's leadership.While Facebook has come under scrutiny for its privacy practices for years, both of the Democratic members of the FTC have said the agency should target individual executives when appropriate.Justin Brookman, a former policy director for technology research at the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, said Thursday night that while the FTC can name individual company leaders if they directed, controlled and knew about any wrongdoing, "they typically only use that authority in fraud-like cases, so far as I can tell."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

@senmikelee Investigating White House Influence in FTC Decision Not to Prosecute Google... - 0 views

    • Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.
       
      # ! The Heat is On...
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

#howgoogleworks: Why did the Federal Trade Commission ignore staff recommendations to p... - 0 views

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    "OK, now that you've stopped laughing, that's not a trick question. We all know why Google has never been prosecuted by the U.S. government. One way or another, they buy their way out of it through Google's unprecedented network of lobbyists, fake academics and shadowy nonprofits like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge."
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    "OK, now that you've stopped laughing, that's not a trick question. We all know why Google has never been prosecuted by the U.S. government. One way or another, they buy their way out of it through Google's unprecedented network of lobbyists, fake academics and shadowy nonprofits like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge."
Paul Merrell

News from The Associated Press - 0 views

  • (AP) -- Federal regulators are urging consumers to go through their phone bills line by line after they accused T-Mobile US of wrongly charging customers for premium services, like horoscope texts and quirky ringtones, the customers never authorized. The Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday that it is suing T-Mobile in a federal court in Seattle with the goal of making sure every unfairly charged customer sees a full refund. The lawsuit, the first of its kind against a mobile provider, is the result of months of stalled negotiations with T-Mobile, which says it is already offering refunds. "It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent," FTC Chair Edith Ramirez in a statement.
  • The practice is called "cramming": A third party stuffs a customer's bill with bogus charges such as $10-per-month horoscopes or updates on celebrity gossip. In this case, the FTC said, T-Mobile was working with third-party vendors being investigated by regulators and known to be the subject of numerous customer complaints. T-Mobile then made it difficult for customers to notice the added charge to their bill and pocketed up to 40 percent of the total, according to the FTC.
  • The FTC told reporters in a conference call Tuesday that it had been in negotiations with T-Mobile for months in an attempt to guarantee refunds would be provided to customers but that the two sides couldn't reach an agreement. T-Mobile appears to have been laying the groundwork to head off the federal complaint. Last November, the company announced that it would no longer allow premium text services because they were waning in popularity and not all vendors had acted responsibly. In June, it announced it would reach out to consumers to provide refunds. But the FTC says that in many cases, the refunds are only partial and T-Mobile often refers customer complaints to the third-party vendors.
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.
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