Apple poses a false dichotomy between "privacy" and "competition"

Back in September, a Congressional committee investigating anticompetitive conduct by America's tech giants sent a letter to Apple (among other Big Tech firms) asking it for details of business practices that seem nakedly anticompetitive; Apple's response seeks to justify much of that conduct by saying that it is essential to protecting its users' privacy. Read the rest

DoJ to scrap the Paramount antitrust rule that prohibits movie studios from buying or strong-arming movie theaters

Through the 1940s and 1950s, the DoJ went to war on the "studio system" -- a system whereby studios locked up actors in exclusive contracts and then bought or strong-armed all the movie theaters in America so that they'd screen whatever the studios made, freezing out independent productions from movie companies that might offer their talent a better, less restrictive deal. Read the rest

Beyond antitrust: the anti-monopoly movement and what it stands for

During a lunch break at the “New Future for Antitrust” conference at the University of Utah, Lina Khan (previously), Marshall Steinbaum (previously), and Tim Wu (previously) drafted "https://onezero.medium.com/the-utah-statement-reviving-antimonopoly-traditions-for-the-era-of-big-tech-e6be198012d7"The Utah Statement, setting out a program for fighting monopolies beyond the mere revival and exercise of antitrust law, premised on the notion "that concentrated private power has become a menace, a barrier to widespread prosperity." Read the rest

Bill Gates just accidentally proved that even "unsuccessful" antitrust enforcement works

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. Read the rest

The case for breaking up Disney

Disney has always been a problematic company, from its crypto-minstrelsy (and not-so-crypto-minstrelsy) to its perpetual copyright extensions to its censorship activities to its gender stereotyping to its anti-union work and so on, but, as anti-monopoly activist Matt Stoller (previously) writes, under CEO Bob Iger the company has changed into an entirely different kind of corporate menace: a monopolist committed to crushing competition, rather than an entertainment company that -- whatever its other sins -- was ferociously committed to making movies, TV shows, theme parks, art and toys. Read the rest

Leaked internal docs show that Facebook shuts down access to user data to kill competitors, but claims it is protecting users

7,000 pages of leaked documents from the Six4Three lawsuit against Facebook reveal how the company provides or restricts access to user data as part of its overall strategy to crush potential competitors who rely on its platform, and deliberately manufactures cynical explanations about "protecting users" to justify the actions. Read the rest

Yahoo Groups is being prepared for shutdown, with all stored archives to be deleted on Dec 14

The latest fuck-you from Oath -- the Verizon division created to manage the zombie assets of AOL and Yahoo, bought at a ridiculous premium and then written down by more than 99% -- is the impending drawdown of Yahoo Groups, with mass deletions of all stored "Files, Polls, Links, Photos, Folders, Calendar, Database, Attachments, Conversations, Email Updates, Message Digest, Message History" as of Dec 14. Read the rest

Congress antitrust probe asks Spotify for Apple abuse info

Lawmakers in Congress want Spotify to detail its allegations of abuses by digital rival Apple as part of a federal antitrust probe, reports Reuters late on Friday citing two anonymous sources. Read the rest

Short documentary on the quest to re-decentralize the internet

I sat down for an interview for Reason's short feature, The Decentralized Web Is Coming, which documents the surging Decentralized Web movement, whose goal is to restore the internet's early, decentralized era, before it turned into five giant services filled with screenshots from the other four. Read the rest

After the passage of the EU Copyright Directive, Google nukes Google News France

The passage of the EU's Copyright Directive last March marked the most controversial rulemaking process in EU history, with lawmakers squeaking a narrow victory that relied on confused MEPs pushing the wrong button. Read the rest

Bill Gates: if we break up Big Tech, we'll just have more bad companies

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. Read the rest

Everyone's investigating Google for antitrust violations...except California and Alabama

The attorneys general from 48 states, DC, and Puerto Rico are collaborating on a joint antitrust investigation of Google's dominance in the ad- and search-markets, but two AGs are sitting this one out: California's Xavier Becerra and Alabama's Steve Marshall. Read the rest

Google is under antitrust investigation by 50 attorneys general

The attorneys general of 48 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have opened a joint antitrust investigation into Google, stepping in where the defanged, irrelevant DoJ (gripped by a Reaganite cultlike doctrine that worships monopolies) refused to go for decades. Read the rest

10 bipartisan Attorneys General launch antitrust investigation against Facebook

Attorneys General from Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, have initiated an antitrust investigation into Facebook, seeking to determine whether the company "endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or increased the price of advertising." Read the rest

From search-engine to walled garden: majority of Google searches do not result in a click

As tech began to concentrate, two dominant strategies emerged: Google's (instrument the whole internet for surveillance, which means that you don't have to lock people in in order to spy on them) and Apple's (lock everyone into a walled garden, and extract revenue by refusing to let them out again). Read the rest

Share prices slide as DOJ announces sweeping antitrust investigations of Big Tech

Without naming any companies, the DOJ has announced that it will investigate Big Tech platforms that dominate "search, social media and retail services." Read the rest

Podcast: Steering with the Windshield Wipers

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my May Locus column: Steering with the Windshield Wipers. It makes the argument that much of the dysfunction of tech regulation -- from botched anti-sex-trafficking laws to the EU's plan to impose mass surveillance and censorship to root out copyright infringement -- are the result of trying to jury-rig tools to fix the problems of monopolies, without using anti-monopoly laws, because they have been systematically gutted for 40 years.

A lack of competition rewards bullies, and bullies have insatiable appetites. If your kid is starving because they keep getting beaten up for their lunch money, you can’t solve the problem by giving them more lunch money – the bullies will take that money too. Likewise: in the wildly unequal Borkean inferno we all inhabit, giving artists more copyright will just enrich the companies that control the markets we sell our works into – the media companies, who will demand that we sign over those rights as a condition of their patronage. Of course, these companies will be subsequently menaced and expropriated by the internet distribution companies. And while the media companies are reluctant to share their bounties with us artists, they reliably expect us to share their pain – a bad quarter often means canceled projects, late payments, and lower advances.

And yet, when a lack of competition creates inequities, we do not, by and large, reach for pro-competitive answers. We are the fallen descendants of a lost civilization, destroyed by Robert Bork in the 1970s, and we have forgotten that once we had a mighty tool for correcting our problems in the form of pro-competitive, antitrust enforcement: the power to block mergers, to break up conglomerates, to regulate anticompetitive conduct in the marketplace.

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