Talking Adversarial Interoperability with Y Combinator

Earlier this month while I was in San Francisco, I went over to the Y Combinator incubator to record a podcast (MP3); we talked for more than an hour about the history of Adversarial Interoperability and what its role was in creating Silicon Valley and the tech sector and how monopolization now threatens adversarial interop and also how it fuels the conspiratorial thinking that is so present in our modern politics. We talk about how startup founders and other technologists can use science fiction for inspiration, and about the market opportunities presented by challenging Big Tech and its giant, massively profitable systems. Read the rest

Big Tech's CEOs can't possibly fix Big Tech

Cathy "Weapons of Math Destruction" O'Neil wants us to have empathy for Big Tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, who are "monumentally screwed, because they have no idea how to tame the monsters they have created." 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

Bipartisan legislation would force Big Tech to allow interoperability with small competitors

The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching” (ACCESS) Act was introduced by Senator Mark Warner [D-VA] and co-sponsored by Senator Josh Hawley [R-MO] and Senator Richard Blumenthal [D-CT]; it mandates the creation of "third party custodial services," regulated by the FTC, that will allow uses of Facebook and other Big Tech platforms to switch to smaller, direct competitors who would then act as an intermediary between these new entrants and the platforms. Read the rest

Wyden's "Mind Your Own Business Act" would force online services to respect Do Not Track

Do Not Track was a standardized way for browsers to tell services that their owners did not consent to having their activities and usage logged; however, it was subverted by Big Tech and big media companies and turned into a useless tick-box that had virtually no impact on your privacy. Read the rest

What it's like to have Apple rip off your successful Mac app

Companies that make successful Mac apps live in constant fear of being sherlocked -- having Apple release a feature-for-feature clone to compete with your product, bundling it in with Macos. Read the rest

Google continues to funnel vast sums to notorious climate deniers

Google and the other big tech companies are some of the most lavish funders of climate denial "think tanks" and lobbying groups, something they've been at continuously for more than six years, without interruption. Read the rest

Identity theft's newest target: your face

A lot of companies struggle with bias in the workplace, but for many big tech companies, the problem is a bit more extreme. Why, because it's not just the human beings that are racist, a lot of their algorithms are biased too. This is the problem that Google reportedly was trying to solve when they got themselves into their latest privacy scandal, tricking black and brown “volunteers” to submit to 3D face scans. 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

The EU's top trustbuster gets a surprise re-appointment

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." Vestager's heart is definitely in the right place, even if she has effectively taken forced breakups off the table, judging that the ensuing legal wrangle will do more harm than good, even if it might put Big Tech's execs on notice that bad behaviour has real consequences. 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

A cycle of renewal, broken: How Big Tech and Big Media abuse copyright law to slay competition

As long we've had electronic mass media, audiences and creators have benefited from periods of technological upheaval that force old gatekeepers to compete with brash newcomers with new ideas about what constitutes acceptable culture and art. Those newcomers eventually became gatekeepers themselves, who then faced their own crop of revolutionaries. But today, the cycle is broken: as media, telecoms, and tech have all grown concentrated, the markets have become winner-take-all clashes among titans who seek to dominate our culture, our discourse and our communications. Read the rest

Tiktok is valued at $75b, is spending $3m/day on US advertising, and in China, it has been turned into a state propaganda vehicle

It's been a year since Chinese social media giant Bytedance relaunched its super-popular app Musica.ly as Tiktok; the company is now valued at $75b, and in the USA it has become a serious challenge to US-based social media companies, courting a young audience (so young that it's getting into legal hot water over it). 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

Eminent psychologists condemn "emotion detection" systems as being grounded in junk science

One of the more extravagant claims made by tech companies is that they can detect emotions by analyzing photos of our faces with machine learning systems. The premise is sometimes dressed up in claims about "micro-expressions" that are below the threshold of human detection, though some vendors have made billions getting security agencies to let them train officers in "behavior detection" grounded in this premise. Read the rest

Facebook's $5B FTC fine was so laughable its stock price went UP after the announcement

In 2011, the US Federal Trade Commission put Facebook under consent decree after the company "deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly [allowed] it to be shared and made public." Read the rest

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