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

Justice Dept. won't block AT&T purchase of Time Warner, mega-merger can proceed

Monopoly season is open, and Net Neutrality just died. The Justice Department will not try to stop AT&T from purchasing Time Warner, and the companies are now free to close their deal. The government may yet appeal a ruling on its antitrust lawsuit against the ultra-giga-mega-merger. Read the rest

Laramie County, Wyoming Sheriffs' department blocks public records requests for their prison phone monopoly deal

Every crappy thing in the world is beta-tested on people who have little or no power, perfected, and brought to the rest of us -- CCTV starts with prisoners, moves to mental institutions, then to schools, then to blue-collar workplaces, then airports, then white-collar workplaces, then everywhere. 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

War criminal Henry Kissinger: "AI is the end of the Enlightenment"

Henry Kissinger -- the war-criminal who abetted Pinochet's coup in Chile, supported the genocide of Bangledeshis by Pakistan, and architected the US's secret bombing campaigns in Indochina -- is worried about AI. Read the rest

The £7 billion Carillion collapse has the UK government talking about breaking up the Big Four accounting firms

Carrillion was the UK government's go-to outsourcing partner, a company with a long and disgraceful history of putting profits before people -- perhaps that's why HM Government was so ready to believe in the company's robust financial health as it amassed £7B in debts and then collapsed, spectacularly, leaving the UK in financial and infrastructural disarray. Read the rest

Comcast charges you $90 to "install" cable in houses that are already wired by Comcast

If you move into a new place and start service from Comcast -- increasingly the only way to get internet service in many places -- the company will often charge you a $90 installation fee, even if the previous occupants had already installed Comcast service, and even if you buy and set up your own modem. Read the rest

Ticketmaster finds a new way to be terrible: facial recognition!

Comcast may be the most hated company in America, but Ticketmaster has sure given it a run for its money, through a combination of monopolism, rent-seeking, shady dealing with scalpers and total indifference to its customers and the entertainers it nominally serves, but as bad as it is, there's still plenty of innovative ways for it to get worse. Read the rest

The most hated company in America is about to get much, much bigger

Comcast is a perennial winner of national polls for the most hated company in America, and the bigger it gets, the worse it gets: back in 2011, the Obama administration let the company swallow NBC Universal, teeing it up to powerfully benefit from the destruction of Net Neutrality under Trump; now Trump is poised to let the company buy Fox and Sky, making the company bigger and more powerful. Read the rest

Amazon orders Signal to stop using AWS to defeat censorship

Repressive autocracies like Egypt, Oman, and the UAE ban Signal and other encrypted messaging apps, using national firewalls to try to block their traffic; Signal evades these blocks by using "domain fronting," in which the service's cloud provider shows up as the origin of its traffic, forcing countries to block Google or Amazon to get at a single service hiding behind them. Read the rest

Comcast: if you don't subscribe to cable TV, we won't sell you high-speed internet

Comcast has found a new way to stem "cord-cutting" (cutting off your cable TV subscription in favor of subscription services like Netflix, or, as in my case, in favor of giving up on watching TV altogether); in markets where they are a monopoly or duopoly, they will reserve their highest-speed internet offerings for customers who agree to pay extra for cable channels that they don't want or need -- if all you want is internet access, Comcast will relegate you to its slow lanes. Read the rest

Thinking through the "What should we do about Facebook?" question

There is, at long last, a public appetite for Doing Something About Facebook (and, by extension, about all of Big Tech); I have been playing with the idea of regulating the outcome, rather than the method: we give Facebook a certain period of time to remedy the situation whereby people "can't afford to leave Facebook" and then, if that situation isn't remedied, impose some sanction and either break them up or give them another go, with more sanctions if they fail. Read the rest

A who's-who of tech manufacturers sent scaremongering letters to the Illinois legislature to kill Right to Repair

Illinois is one of 18 states where Right to Repair legislation has been introduced -- rules that would force manufacturers to end the practice of undermining the independent repair sector with hidden service documents, unavailable parts, and DRM. 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

The upside of big tech is Russia vs Telegram, but the downside is Cloudflare vs SESTA

Yesterday, I wrote about the way that tech-sector concentration was making it nearly impossible for Russia to block the encrypted messaging service Telegram: because Telegram can serve its traffic through giant cloud providers like Amazon, Russia can only block Telegram by blocking everyone else who uses Amazon. Read the rest

The US workforce is the most productive, best educated in history and unemployment is at an all-time low, but wages are stagnant

Orthodox market economics holds that when unemployment falls and the labor supply gets tighter wages go up; it also predicts that better-educated workers and more-productive workers get paid more for their work -- none of this has happened. Read the rest

The Peltzman model: a way to understand the kind of regulation Facebook might face from Congress

Sam Peltzman proposed a model of regulation where the profitability of firms is in tension with their customers' desire for low prices and politicians' desire to get votes. Read the rest

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