Tag: antitrust

11
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Google Comes Under Fire Abroad as U.S. Prepares Antitrust Case

(Bloomberg) — Google is confronting a growing backlash against its market power in international markets, compounding the company’s regulatory challenges as it girds for an historic antitrust suit from the U.S. Justice Dept.

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In just a matter of weeks, the search giant’s business practices have drawn scrutiny in Australia, South Korea and India. The European Union’s antitrust chief has already threatened to break up Google if it won’t change its ways, while the company pulled out of China a decade ago because of government censorship.

India is a prime example of how Google’s troubles could undercut future growth. More than 200 startup founders have banded together and opened discussions with the government to stop the Alphabet Inc. unit from imposing a 30% fee on smartphone app purchases, its standard levy around the world. While Google delayed implementation for six months after an outcry last week, the country’s tech industry is determined to constrain the colossus.

“As a country, can we afford to give away so much power to one or two monopolistic foreign companies?” said Anupam Mittal, a prominent angel investor and startup founder. “If India wants to create the next Microsoft or Alibaba, the government has to act now.”



map: Google in Cross-Hairs


© Bloomberg
Google in Cross-Hairs

India’s authorities have proven willing to go after the largest corporations and take forceful action — when they see a clear, national interest. Companies such as Apple Inc. were prohibited for years from opening their own retail stores to protect local operators, while TikTok and more than a hundred other Chinese apps were quickly banned this year over security concerns.

“We’ve lots of confidence in the government; they’ve acted decisively in the last few months,” said Mittal, who is part of a group talking with officials. “Google will have to back off.”

The

07
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

U.S. House Antitrust Chairman Calls Unwinding Facebook’s Instagram Buy ‘The Right Answer’ | Technology News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative David Cicilline, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, said on Wednesday he would be “comfortable with unwinding” Facebook Inc’s acquisition of Instagram.

The antitrust subcommittee on Tuesday released a report on Big Tech’s abuses of market power but stopped short of naming specific companies or acquisitions that must be broken up.

Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, told Reuters in an interview that Facebook should not have been allowed to buy Instagram, a deal that the Federal Trade Commission approved in 2012.

“I would be comfortable with unwinding that. I think that’s the right answer,” he said.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has said previously that Instagram was insignificant at the time it was purchased and that Facebook built it into the success it has become.

Any effort to unwind the deal would entail the government filing a lawsuit and asking a judge to order the divestiture.

The congressional report released on Tuesday said that Instagram was small at the time it was purchased, but that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw its potential and noted it was “building networks that are competitive with our own” and “could be very disruptive to us.”

According to the House panel’s report on Tuesday, the committee received an email from an unnamed former Instagram employee on Sunday that disputed Facebook’s contention that the two apps could not easily be separated.

“They can just roll back the changes they’ve been making over the past year and you’d have two different apps again,” the person wrote. “It’s turning something on and off.”

(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Chris Reese and Matthew Lewis)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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07
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

20 years after Microsoft’s antitrust fight, Steve Ballmer betting that Big Tech won’t be broken up

Steve Ballmer at the GeekWire Summit 2019 (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

Twenty years after Microsoft waged its own antitrust battle with the U.S. government, former CEO Steve Ballmer is betting that Congress won’t break up Big Tech this time around.

In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday (below), Ballmer was reacting to a U.S. House antitrust subcommittee report released this week that found challenges presented by the dominance and business practices of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

RELATED: House antitrust probe says Amazon has ‘monopoly power’ over sellers, company slams ‘fringe’ findings

“I’ll bet money that they will not be broken up,” Ballmer told CNBC.

The 450-page report from the subcommittee’s Democratic leaders concludes a 16-month investigation into the four companies as the operators of major online markets. It finds that the market power of the tech giants “has diminished consumer choice, eroded innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S. economy, weakened the vibrancy of the free and diverse press, and undermined Americans’ privacy.”

Ballmer said he doesn’t think the notion of breaking up the companies answers most of the questions or complaints that are being raised against the companies. And he thinks Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple would do well to engage with regulators now rather than take unilateral action that they hope satisfies those calling the shots.

“If I’m in these guys’ shoes, I say, ‘Come on, let’s get down there and let’s regulate me and let’s get it over with so I know what I can do,’” Ballmer told CNBC.

Ballmer is currently the billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise and founder of the Bellevue, Wash.-based nonpartisan, not-for-profit civic data initiative USAFacts.

Ballmer also discussed USAFacts’ launch of a $10 million ad campaign, to air during the nationally televised presidential debates, aimed at illustrating

07
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Big tech responds to antitrust report

The major tech platforms push back against the House antitrust report, Google Assistant gets a “guest” mode and we interview a freshly minted Nobel laureate. This is your Daily Crunch for October 7, 2020.

The big story: Big tech responds to antitrust report

The House Judiciary Committee released its tech antitrust report late yesterday, concluding that the big tech platforms should face additional regulation. Recommendations include creating new separations to prevent dominant platforms from operating in adjacent lines of business, new requirements for interoperability and data portability and increased restrictions on mergers and acquisitions.

For now, these are just recommendations — and they weren’t endorsed by the committee’s Republican minority. But they have prompted forceful responses from four of the companies targeted by the report: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

Amazon, for example, dismissed the committee’s views as “fringe notions” and “regulatory spitballing,” while Apple said it “vehemently” disagrees with the report’s conclusions.

The tech giants

Google Assistant gets an incognito-like guest mode — With Guest mode on, Google Assistant won’t offer personalized responses and your interactions won’t be saved to your account.

Slack introduces new features to ease messaging between business partners — One new feature: Slack Connect DMs, allowing users inside an organization to collaborate with anyone outside their company simply by sending an invite.

Instagram’s Threads app now lets you message everyone, like its Direct app once did — These changes are rolling out shortly after a major update to Instagram’s messaging platform.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Envisics nabs $50M for its in-car holographic display tech at a $250M+ valuation — The startup brings together computer vision, machine learning, big data analytics and navigation to build hardware that integrates into vehicles to project holographic, head-up displays.

Shogun raises $35M to help brands take on

07
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

House antitrust report: Amazon uses seller data to copy products

  • Amazon uses third-party seller data to copy the site’s most popular products, an antitrust report by the House Judiciary Committee alleged on Wednesday.
  • Former Amazon sellers told an antitrust subcommittee the company released new products almost identical to their own and “killed” their sales.
  • Amazon has denied accusations of this behavior in the past.
  • “We have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private-label business,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in July.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee said it has uncovered evidence that Amazon uses detailed data from third-party sellers to copy popular products and push some sellers out of business — something the tech giant has consistently denied. 

The subcommittee said it had heard “repeated” concerns from both former employees and third-party sellers that Amazon uses seller data to either copy products or source the product directly from the manufacturer. It then sells it direct to consumers, according to the subcommittee’s findings.

“We have heard so many heartbreaking stories of small businesses who sunk significant time and resources into building a business and selling on Amazon, only to have Amazon poach their best-selling items and drive them out of business,” the subcommittee’s chairman David Cicilline said.

The findings formed part of a wide-ranging antitrust report on Big Tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook.

One former Amazon employee who spoke to the committee compared access to third-party seller data to a “candy shop.”

“Everyone can have access to anything they want,” they said. Employees even use this data to set up their own successful third-party accounts, the Democratic leaders of the committee wrote in their report on Wednesday. 

Similar accusations have mounted over the past 15 months, but Amazon has adamantly denied using third-party seller data in this way.