Today, we are told that the bigness of Big Tech giants was inevitable: the result of "network effects." For example, once everyone you want to talk to is on Facebook, you can't be convinced to use another, superior service, because all the people you'd use that service to talk to are still on Facebook. — Read the rest
In 1992, the Federal Trade Commission opened an antitrust investigation against Microsoft; in 2001, the company settled the claims, making a slate of pro-competitive promises that were widely derided as too little, too late.
Google has long allowed you to delete all the data it's stored on you, or to turn off collection, but turning off collection altogether made its services a lot less useful (for example, it made the auto-suggested locations in the Maps app of your phone worse, forcing you to do more typing on a tiny keyboard while on the go), and otherwise you had to remember to periodically open Google's privacy dashboard and delete your stored history.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Bill Gates dismissed the idea of breakups as a remedy for Big Tech's monopolistic market concentration; Gates said that breaking up an abusive company will just produce more abusive companies. Instead, Gates believes that specific monopolistic activities should be banned.
Margrethe Vestager (previously) is the EU competition commissioner who handed out a bouquet of multibillion-dollar fines to US-based Big Tech companies; she had resigned herself to being ousted after her previous term but in a last-minute surprise she has been granted another turn in office, with a new mandate to create a "Europe fit for the digital age." — Read the rest
Last summer, we published a comprehensive look at the ways that Facebook could and should open up its data so that users could control their experience on the service, and to make it easier for competing services to thrive.
Margrethe Vestager (previously) is the EU Commissioner responsible for handing out billions in fines to Big Tech to punish them for monopolistic practices.
Margrethe Vestager (previously) has been the EU antitrust commissioner for five years, and now she is getting ready to step down (her party is unlikely to prevail next year, so she will likely be replaced), having presided over an unprecedented era of antitrust enforcement that has seen billions of euros extracted in penalties from Google, Apple and Facebook, with Amazon now under her microscope.
Sheryl Sandberg asked Facebook staff to research George Soros because he gave a speech boldly critical of the social media giant as a "menace," reports the New York Times tonight.
Amazon's best selling wholesales have long accused the company of mining their sales data to discover which products are most profitable; then Amazon clones the product and offers it for sale at a lower price than the wholesales can afford (because Amazon doesn't have to worry about a wholesale-retail markup when it's both wholesaler and retailer at once) and tweaks its search and recommendation system to drive sales to its private-label versions of its partners' products.
Margrethe Vestager (previously), the EU's fire-breathing antitrust regulator, has hit Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer with $130,000,000 (€111,000,000) in fines for fixing minimum prices at which their goods could be sold online.
The US — allegedly a bastion of the "free market" — has one of the world's lowest levels of economic competition, thanks to the triumph of the Chicago School economists, who used shitty math to convince Ronald Reagan and his successors that the only time a monopoly is a problem is when it raises prices.
Google expected to be punished by the European Union for anticompetitive shenanigans, but it didn't expect a slap this hard: €2.42 billion, the largest fine on record. The company says it "respectfully disagrees" with both the ruling and the amount and may appeal. — Read the rest
The EU had been expected to fine Google a little over €1B for its anti-competitive practice of promoting its own shopping service over competitors' in search results: today's €2.42B comes as a surprise, as does the ongoing fine if it fails to change its behavior within 90 days — up to €10.6m a day, or 5% of parent company Alphabet's total daily earnings.
Ireland offered Apple huge tax breaks, but didn't give other companies the same deal. The European Commission concluded this was illegal and the company must pay up the €13bn it would otherwise have owed in taxes.
— Read the rest
The Commission said "selective treatment" allowed Apple to pay tax rate of 1% on European Union profits in 2003 down to 0.005% in 2014.