More than 130 European businesses tell the European Parliament: Reject the #CopyrightDirective

The EU's Copyright Directive will be voted on in the week of March 25 (our sources suggest the vote will take place on March 27th, but that could change); the Directive has been controversial all along, but it took a turn for the catastrophic during the late stages of the negotiation, which yielded a final text that is alarming in its potential consequences for all internet activity in Europe and around the world. Read the rest

Facebook and Big Tech are monopsonies, even when they're not monopolies

Big Tech is often in a monopoly situation (for example, Amazon's Audible owns something like 90% of the audiobook market), but even where they aren't monopolies, they are often monopsonies: a single buyer that controls the whole market that a variety of sellers want to sell into. Read the rest

Spotify's antitrust complaint against Apple is a neat parable about Big Tech's monopoly

Spotify has asked the EU Commission to intervene in its business relationship with Apple, citing the fact that Apple takes a 30% vig on all customer revenues from people who join the service or buy songs through an Iphone app, while Apple's own competing Itunes store does not have to pay this commission. Read the rest

Thanks to audiobooks, reading's popularity still strong in America

Reading remains solidly popular in America, with the latest figures from Pew showing that print book readership remains at same levels as they were in 2012: about 74% of Americans have read at least one book in the past year: 67% of readers have read at least one print book. Read the rest

Study shows that countries that permit Facebook's beloved "zero rating" programs end up with more expensive wireless data

Facebook loves "zero rating," when an internet provider takes bribes from online services to exempt them from data charges on their networks: Facebook says that having a roster of (Facebook-approved) services that are free-to-use benefits the poorest people in a country (and the fact that this also makes "Facebook" synonymous with "internet" for whole nations is merely incidental). Read the rest

The Myth of Capitalism: an ardent capitalist decries monopoly

Naked Capitalism's John Siman reviews Joanthan Tepper and Denise Hearn's The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition, in which Tepper (who does research that is sold to asset managers) condemns capitalism's current state while rejecting Thomas Piketty (who says that capitalism inevitably elevates the already-rich, not the people who create wealth by doing useful things) and Karl Marx. Read the rest

The EU's ambitious, fearless antitrust czar is unlikely to win another term

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. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren's new bill: let the US government manufacture generic versions of overpriced, unavailable drugs

Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced a bill called the Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act, which allows the US government to manufacture generic versions of drugs "in cases in which no company is manufacturing a drug, when only one or two companies manufacture a drug and its price has spiked, when the drug is in shortage, or when a medicine listed as essential by the World Health Organization faces limited competition and high prices." Read the rest

Big Tech got big because we stopped enforcing antitrust law (not because tech is intrinsically monopolistic)

Tim Wu (previously) is a legal scholar best known for coining the term "Net Neutrality" -- his next book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age (previously) challenges the accepted wisdom about today's digital monopolists, which is that they grew so big because of some underlying truth about online business ("first-mover advantage," "network effects," "globalism," etc). Instead, Wu argues that the reason we got digital monopolies is that we stopped enforcing anti-monopoly rules against digital companies (and then against all kinds of companies). Read the rest

GDPR: Good for privacy, even better for Google's dominance

The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation is a gnarly hairball of regulation; on the one hand, it makes it virtually impossible to collect mountains of data and buy/sell/trade/mine it to a corporation's heart's content; on the other hand, it imposes a ton of expensive compliance steps on its targets like high-cost record-keeping, and it apportions liability to website operators whose advertisers are out of compliance with the regulation. Read the rest

Democrats unveil "Internet Bill of Rights": transparency, privacy, control, notification, Net Neutrality, competition, accountability

The Democrats' newly unveiled "Internet Bill of Rights" enumerates ten rights that the party says it will enshrine in law, ranging from Net Neutrality to data portability to timely notification of breaches to opt-in for data collection, the right to see the data held on you by surveillance capitalists, rights to privacy and to be free from surveillance-driven discrimination, pro-competitive measures and so forth. Read the rest

America's super-concentrated telcoms industry unites to sue California over Net Neutrality law

Competition scholar Tim Wu has described how industries over time become more concentrated and less competitive, as executives move sideways from one giant company to another, creating a web of backchannels that lets the companies unite to pursue their industry-wide goals rather than competing with each other to deliver better service at better prices to their customers. Read the rest

Standard Notes: free, open, cross-platform, encrypted, eternal note-taking app

With Evernote's business on the rocks, a lot of people are waking up to the fact that commercial, proprietary cloud systems work great (easy, well-supported) but fail badly (lock-in, sudden bankruptcy, loss of years' worth of important data). Read the rest

Facebook kremlinology: Instagram founders' exodus signals immanent facebookization

Facebook's acquisition spree -- including huge-dollar payouts for Instagram and Whatsapp -- was supposed to shore up the company's crumbling user base by creating a "family" of semi-independent companies with diverse approaches to business, sharing a back-end of engineering, marketing and other resources, but offering very different propositions to users. Read the rest

Big Tech is losing the public's trust in just the same way that Big Finance has

Writing in the New York Times, Nathaniel Popper notes a new current running through our discourse: the idea that Big Tech is not to be trusted, and should be broken up. Read the rest

Tim "Net Neutrality" Wu on the case for breaking up Facebook

Competition scholar and cyberlawyer Tim Wu (previously) is best known for coining the term "Net Neutrality," but his work ranges over all sorts of issues related to technology, competition, monopoly and innovation; in his forthcoming book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age, he makes the case for breaking up the tech giants, starting with Facebook -- because the problem with Big Tech isn't "tech," it's "big." Read the rest

Zephyr Teachout wins the New York Times's endorsement for Attorney General of New York State

Zephyr Teachout (previously) is a netroots pioneer, a leading competition law scholar, and a progressive candidate for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General of New York State. Read the rest

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