Google began its appeal Monday of a $5 billion fine levied by a European regulator over alleged market abuses.
The European Commission slapped the tech giant with the fine in 2018 for a number of alleged anticompetitive practices, including forcing smartphone makers to pre-install the Google Chrome browser to be able to install the Google Play Store, and imposing restrictions discouraging smartphone makers from manufacturing devices that run unofficial versions of the Android operating system. The commission alleged Google used these requirements to keep out competitors and maintain its monopoly position in Android distribution.
A bipartisan group of 32 state attorneys general sent a letter to leading lawmakers in the House and Senate on Monday urging the passage of a series of antitrust bills targeting major technology companies.
The letter, led by attorneys general Phil Weiser of Colorado, Douglas Peterson of Nebraska, Letitia James of New York, and Herbert H. Slatery III of Tennessee, was addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The attorneys general urged Congress to modernize federal antitrust laws and enhance consumer protections by passing a series of bills introduced in the House Judiciary Committee in June that target big tech companies.
“A comprehensive update of federal antitrust laws has not occurred in decades,” the attorneys general wrote. “The sponsors of these bills should be commended for working to ensure that federal antitrust laws remain robust and keep pace with that of modern markets.”
A warning by former national security officials about the dangers of regulating technology companies is in lockstep with arguments made by Big Tech chief executives, according to a report from an internet watchdog group.
A group of former intelligence community officials sent a letter Wednesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy arguing against the passage of a series of antitrust bills advanced in the House Judiciary Committee in June. The warnings echo talking points made by groups lobbying for the tech industry and major tech firms themselves, according to a report by the Internet Accountability Project, a nonprofit conservative advocacy group focused on issues related to Big Tech.
The intelligence community officials argued the bills would make the U.S. less competitive with China and could even compromise America’s national security.
Police are reportedly increasingly using Google data to identify suspects in criminal investigations, a trend that has experts warning about possible privacy and civil liberty concerns.
“Geofence location warrants and reverse search warrants” are “increasingly becoming the tool of choice for law enforcement,” according to The Guardian.
Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters wants to break up Big Tech and ban their business practices he believes are harmful.
“I think Republicans need to reacquaint themselves with their history of antitrust enforcement, and realize huge concentrations of power in private hands can violate people’s liberties just as much as government,” Masters said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Masters, who announced his candidacy in July, serves as chief operating officer at investment firm Thiel Capital and runs the Thiel Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by billionaire investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. He competes in a crowded Republican primary with fellow candidate and current Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for the chance to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in 2022.
Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley called on Google Wednesday to explain its recent censorship of pro-life ads.
In a letter addressed to Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai, Hawley called on Google to explain why ads placed by the pro-life organizations Live Action and Choose Life Marketing had been “seemingly censored.”
The New York Times quietly removed its assertion that the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop prior to the 2020 election was “unsubstantiated” from a story published Monday about a Federal Election Commission complaint related to the matter.
The Times reported Monday that the FEC ruled in August that Twitter did not violate any laws by temporarily blocking users from sharing the Post’s Oct. 14 story on a “smoking gun” email from Hunter Biden’s laptop showing that an executive of a Ukrainian gas company had thanked him for an introduction to then-Vice President Joe Biden. The Times called the story “unsubstantiated” when its article on the FEC’s decision was first published early Monday afternoon.
“The Federal Election Commission has dismissed Republican accusations that Twitter violated election laws in October by blocking people from posting links to an unsubstantiated New York Post article about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son Hunter Biden, in a decision that is likely to set a precedent for future cases involving social media sites and federal campaigns,” Times reporter Shane Goldmacher stated in its original version of his report Monday.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law Thursday preventing social media companies from banning users for their political views.
The law, known as HB 20, prohibits social media platforms from banning or suspending users, and removing or suppressing their content, based on political viewpoint. The bill was introduced by state Sen. Bryan Hughes partly in an effort to combat perceived censorship of conservatives by Facebook, Twitter, Google-owned YouTube, and other major tech companies.
“Social media websites have become our modern-day public square,” Abbott said in a statement. “They are a place for healthy public debate where information should be able to flow freely — but there is a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas.”
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is readying an antitrust lawsuit against Google over its digital advertising practices, a source familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
The lawsuit will be based on the ongoing DOJ investigation into allegations Google illegally maintains a monopoly in the digital advertising market, and could be filed as soon as December, the source told Bloomberg. Though the decision to file the complaint has yet to be finalized, the suit would be the DOJ’s second antitrust challenge against Google, following an October lawsuit which took aim at Google’s search business.
Thursday morning on Frist Principles with Phill Kline, host Kline welcomed The Star News Networks CEO and Editor in Chief Michael Patrick Leahy to the phone lines to discuss the changing landscape of journalism and Big Techs’ partnership with social media titans.
Apple and Google might change their app store business practices because of a new South Korean law similar to recent legislative efforts by U.S. lawmakers.
The new law would prohibit app stores, including Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, from forcing developers to use the tech giants’ payment systems, The Wall Street Journal reported. The bill, passed by South Korea’s National Assembly, will become law once signed by President Moon Jae-in.
The Korean bill is similar to a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Amy Klobuchar, and Marsha Blackburn to the U.S. Senate earlier this month that seeks “to promote competition and reduce gatekeeper power in the app economy, increase choice, improve quality, and reduce costs for consumers.” Both bills prevent app stores from requiring the use of their billing systems and take aim at the tech giants’ commission structure.
Despite calls for increased regulation of the tech industry, Congress has yet to pass any major legislation, leaving it up to the states to take action curbing tech companies’ power and influence.
Meanwhile, state legislatures have introduced and enacted legislation on data privacy, antitrust, and content moderation, while state attorneys general have issued a number of legal challenges alleging anticompetitive business practices.
Senators from both parties introduced a bill Wednesday targeting alleged anticompetitive conduct among Apple and Google app stores.
The Open App Markets Act, introduced Wednesday by Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn along with Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar, would prevent app stores such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store from requiring developers to use the tech giants’ in-app payment systems as a condition of distribution. The bill would also stop Apple and Google from taking “punitive action” against developers who offer different pricing terms in other app stores.
“This legislation will tear down coercive anticompetitive walls in the app economy, giving consumers more choices and smaller startup tech companies a fighting chance,” Blumenthal said in a joint statement.
NBC Universal and its advertisers are becoming worried about the success of Olympic broadcasting as TV ratings plunge and star athletes struggle, Variety reported on Tuesday.
Low TV viewing numbers and early exits from star athletes like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka have caused anxiety from Olympic advertisers, Variety reported.
Despite beating competitors’ nightly program views, the Olympics are “clearly not what NBC, our agency or our clients were looking for,” an unnamed media buying executive told Variety.
Big Tech companies reported massive, record-breaking earnings figures as their sales continued to surge amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Google, Apple, Microsoft and Twitter all beat earnings estimates and showed large revenue growth, executives for the tech companies said during earnings calls Tuesday evening. The four companies’ earnings reports suggested that the growth experienced by Big Tech during the pandemic will continue apace.
“Our long-term investments in AI and Google Cloud are helping us drive significant improvements in everyone’s digital experience,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement Tuesday, explaining his company’s strong performance.
Google was fined $590 million Tuesday by a French regulator Tuesday for failing to negotiate with news publishers for use of their content.
France’s Competition Authority issued the €500 million (roughly $590 million) fine after Google repeatedly violated April 2020 orders forcing the company to pay news publishers to display their content in search results, the agency announced in a statement Tuesday. The orders were issued after the tech company failed to comply with a 2019 European Union (EU) copyright law mandating news aggregators such as Google license content from news publishers and press agencies, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“Google’s negotiations with publishers and press agencies cannot be regarded as having been conducted in good faith,” Isabelle de Silva, president of Competition Authority, said in the statement.
State attorneys general of 36 states and the District of Columbia filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Wednesday alleging the company engaged in anticompetitive practices in its Play Store for Android.
The complaint argues Google holds and unlawfully maintains a monopoly in the market of “Android app distribution,” using anticompetitive tactics such as blocking competitors from accessing the Play Store, discouraging the creation of competing app stores, and acquiring smaller app developers. The complaint also alleges Google charges app developers up to a 30% commission when customers purchase their products through the Google Play Store.
“Google has taken steps to close the ecosystem from competition and insert itself as the middleman between app developers and consumers,” the plaintiffs argue.
The founder of CloutHub, a free speech social media network, has responded to former President Donald J. Trump’s class action lawsuit against several Silicon Valley titans, which the forty-fifth president announced Wednesday.
“I am pleased that President Trump is fighting back against Big Tech corporations after enduring months of blatant injustices,” Jeff Brain said in press release. “His lawsuit is based on the infringement of his fundamental free speech rights that powerful companies such as Facebook and Twitter imposed based on their own political bias; a bias that has no place with such important keepers of our national public square online.”
Last-minute changes to major antitrust legislation working its way through the House appears to exempt several Big Tech companies from being affected by its regulations.
The legislation, which has been months in the making and was crafted to take on Big Tech monopolies, targets a handful of companies while excluding others that also have massive market power, a leading expert told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Existing federal and state antitrust law already prohibits a wide range of anticompetitive business activity across all industries like unlawful mergers and monopolization.
Apple CEO Tim Cook called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress last week, warning lawmakers that newly proposed antitrust legislation would harm consumers and hurt innovation, five sources with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.
Lawmakers introduced a series of antitrust bills that target Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon, The New York Times reports. The legislative efforts seek to rein in the tech companies by addressing alleged anti-competitive practices and by curbing monopoly power, according to a report by CNET.
Pelosi pushed back on Cook’s warnings, asking him to name specific policy objections, two sources with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.
There are few, if any, political issues that now generate the breadth and intensity of bipartisan backlash as does the rise of Big Tech.
During Donald Trump’s presidency, the major parties largely diverged on their specific grievances against the woke Silicon Valley monopolists who serve as gatekeepers for America’s 21st-century public square. Republicans, by and large, focused on censorship of conservative online speech. Democrats, by contrast, tended to focus on economic concentration; the five American corporations with the largest market caps, for example, are tech behemoths Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google Alphabet, and Facebook. This divergence has stymied efforts to rein in the Big Tech oligarchy on issues such as Section 230, the 1990s-era provision permitting platforms to engage in publisher-like content-moderation decisions without being legally treated as publishers.
Conservatives still have myriad concerns with Big Tech’s noxious brew of speech suppressions, shadow bans, and unaccountable deplatformings. Those concerns are both legitimate and justified by Big Tech’s ever-expanding list of misdeeds. But there is an emerging sea change in the way conservatives conceptualize the relationship between Big Tech’s unfettered content-moderation leeway and the sheer economic clout wielded by the relevant corporate actors.
A lawsuit filed on Tuesday by Ohio Attorney General David Yost aims to make Google a public utility, limiting the ways the search engine provides search results.
“Google uses its dominance of internet search to steer Ohioans to Google’s own products–that’s discriminatory and anti-competitive,” Yost said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “When you own the railroad or the electric company or the cellphone tower, you have to treat everyone the same and give everybody access.”
Google announced that it will remove its global lead for diversity strategy and research, Kamau Bobb, after a 2007 blog post in which he’d made antisemitic comments surfaced, Fox News reported. Bobb will be reassigned to a STEM research role.
The reassignment comes after revelations that Bobb had previously authored a blog post that contained antisemitic statements.
In a 2007 blog post by Bobb titled “If I Were a Jew,” he wrote that Jewish people had an “insensitivity” to suffering and stated “If I were a Jew I would be concerned about my insatiable appetite for war and killing in defense of myself.” The post has since been removed, but is recorded here.
According to a the most recent quarterly censorship report card from the Media Research Center (MRC), most of the major Silicon Valley tech titans are failing to protect freedom of expression.
“By almost any measure, the first three months of 2021 were the worst ever for online freedom. Amazon, Twitter, Apple, Google, Facebook, YouTube and others proved to the world that the Big Tech censorship of conservatives is a reality,” the group said. “And they did so in disturbing, authoritarian ways that highlight their unchecked power over information and our political process.”
Despite its ongoing censorship and banning of prominent conservatives from its platform, the CEO of Google-owned YouTube collected an award for “free expression” last week.
The nonprofit Freedom Forum, which describes itself as “celebrating the world’s champions of free expression,” decided that Susan Wojcicki met that high bar.
More corporations are speaking out against Georgia’s voter reform law, otherwise known as Senate Bill 202. Officials at Microsoft, American Express, Google and others this week condemned SB 202 as a form of voter suppression.
Costco will raise its company-wide minimum wage to $16 per hour, a one-dollar increase that raises its wages higher than its fellow big-box retailers, the company’s CEO said during a congressional hearing Thursday.
Costco plans to raise its minimum wage from $15 to $16 because it is committed to paying workers “very competitive retail wages,” CEO Craig Jelinek said during a Senate Budget Committee hearing Thursday. Jelinek stopped short of advocating in favor of a federal minimum wage overhaul, instead saying he was solely focused on Costco.
Employees at Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, donated at least $15.1 million to President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, according to Open Secrets.
The donations eclipsed the amount given from employees in the banking and legal sectors, according to The Wall Street Journal. The five companies were also the largest fundraising sources for Biden’s campaign.