My closing keynote from the second Decentralized Web Summit

Two years ago, I delivered the closing keynote at the Internet Archive's inaugural Decentralized Web event; last week, we had the second of these, and once again, I gave the closing keynote, entitled Big Tech's problem is Big, not Tech. Here's the abstract: Read the rest

Everybody hates their cable company, unless the company is Google, or the city, or a tiny mom-and-pop

Consumer Reports' latest telcoms survey finds that people hate their cable company with the fire of a thousand suns, and that they hate them even more than they did the last time they were asked, which is remarkable, because everyone hated them the last time they were asked. Read the rest

12% of music industry revenues go to musicians

There are more people who want to make art than the market would support, and the arts are a highly concentrated industry: combine those two facts and you get a buyers' market for artists' work, controlled by intermediaries, who take almost all of the money generated by the work. Read the rest

Inside the triumphant Alex Jones banned everywhere story is a worrying nuance about free speech and platform dominance

When we worry about free speech, we mostly worry about governments suppressing speech, not private actors. It's one thing to say that the US government shouldn't have the ability to arbitrarily censor some speech, but it's another altogether to say, that, for example, Boing Boing shouldn't be able to kick jerks off its message boards -- that has as much to do with "compelled publication" as it does with "free speech." Read the rest

Talking copyright, internet freedom, artistic business models, and antitrust with Steal This Show

I'm on the latest episode of Torrentfreak's Steal This Show podcast (MP3), where I talk with host Jamie King about "Whether file-sharing & P2P communities have lost the battle to streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, and why the ‘copyfight’ is still important; how the European Copyright Directive eats at the fabric of the Web, making it even harder to compete with content giants; and why breaking up companies like Google and Facebook might be the only way to restore an internet — and a society — we can all live with." Read the rest

Big Tech's active moderation promise is also a potential source of eternal commercial advantage over newcomers

Farhad Manjoo (previously) writes in the New York Times about his cautious optimism that the big platforms are finally taking some steps to prevent harassment, but he also worries that this is setting the stage for a new era in tech, one in which the rules guarantee that Big Tech never has to worry about being challenged by upstarts. Read the rest

EFF has published a detailed guide to regulating Facebook without destroying the internet

If you're a dominant near-monopolist like Facebook, your first preference is to have no regulation at all -- but your close second choice is to have lots of regulation that you can afford, but that potential competitors can't, sparing you the tedious exercise of buying and killing any company that might grow up to compete with you some day. Read the rest

Europe fines four electronics companies $130,000,000 for price-fixing

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. Read the rest

Sign of the times: Big Tech comes together to create interoperability tool so users can move between services

Once upon a time, online services differentiated themselves from competitors by promising not to lock their users in (memorably, Flickr offered an API that would let you export all your photos, your social graph and the comments and other metadata to any other service that had a similar API), but as slumbering antitrust regulators allowed wave after wave of mergers and acquisitions, so tech become Big Tech, walled gardens made a roaring comeback, with services quietly shelving the ability to move between them. Read the rest

With the App Store monopoly case, the Supreme Court could reverse decades of frustrated antitrust enforcement

On Monday, the Supreme Court will review the 9th Circuit's decision in Apple Inc. v. Pepper, in which the plaintiffs argue that Apple has established a monopoly over apps for Ios (this part is actually incontrovertible, as Apple has used both technology and law to prevent rival app stores from operating), and that Iphone and Ipad owners have a right to ask the government to break up this monopoly (that's the controversial part). Read the rest

Big Tech has established a "kill zone" of business ideas that startups can't get funded to try

In 2014, the Economist described a "Cambrian explosion" of tech startups trying every conceivable idea in every conceivable variation, competing to find better ways to deliver better services at lower costs; today it laments the "kill-zone" of business ideas that are unfundable, either because Big Tech is already doing them, or because Big Tech might someday do them. Read the rest

The emerging split in modern trustbusting: Alexander Hamilton's Fully Automated Luxury Communism vs Thomas Jefferson's Redecentralization

From the late 1970s on, the Chicago School economists worked with the likes of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Augusto Pinochet and Brian Mulroney to dismantle antitrust enforcement, declaring that the only time government should intervene is when monopolists conspired to raise prices -- everything else was fair game. Read the rest

The problem isn't that Facebook is creepy, it's that it's creepy AND HUGE

Writing in Wired, Rep David N. Cicilline [D-RI], the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary’s Antitrust Subcommittee; and Terrell McSweeny, outgoing Democratic commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission write about the real problem with Facebook: it's a creepy, surveillant company that's also really, really big. Read the rest

Research report explains how adtech supercharges political deceit, allowing even bumblers to be master propagandists

A new report from the New America Foundation uses the current fear that Russian government elements manipulated the 2016 US election to explore the relationship between advertising technology, surveillance capitalism, and "precision propaganda," showing how the toolsuite developed for the advertising industry is readily repurposable by even modestly competent actors to spread disinformation campaigns. Read the rest

EU fines Qualcomm over $1 billion for anti-competitive iPhone deal

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. Read the rest

A preview of the lawsuits that will be filed to save Net Neutrality after the FCC voted to kill it today

Today, the FCC ignored tens of millions of Americans' views, as well as comments from the world's leading internet scientists and the inventors of the internet, and give a huge regulatory gift to the telcoms sector it is supposed to be regulating, rolling back Net Neutrality and allowing those companies to extort blackmail money from the web publishers you try to access through their lines. Read the rest

How the Chicago School's extremist ideology destroyed the American economy with unchecked monopolies

There was a time when monopolistic control over sectors of the US economy was vigorously checked through antitrust enforcement, but the neoliberal ideology of the Chicago economists (Milton Friedman et al) has eroded competition in America by convincing regulators that monopolies only need to be policed under very specific (and almost unheard-of) circumstances. Read the rest

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