AT&T hikes business customers' bills by up to 7%, charging them to recoup its own property taxes

AT&T business customers, including those who've been promised a locked-in rate inclusive of all taxes and fees, are finding "property tax" surcharges on their bills of up to 7%. These charges represent an attempt by AT&T to pass on the property taxes it pays on its own offices and other facilities to its customers. 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

Verizon dumps another Oath property for peanuts: RIP, Mapquest

Mapquest was once the leading map site in the world; they were bought by AOL as part of AOL's decades' long spree of buying successful companies and running them into the ground -- finally, they were sold, and merged with Yahoo's mangled acquisitions, to Verizon, to form a new, doomed division called "Oath" (because thinking about it made people swear). Read the rest

Glenlivet's marketing stunt: whiskey in lozenge form

Glenlivet capsules are edible, seaweed-derived pods filled with whiskey that you bite into. Read the rest

Consumer Reports documents the deceptive cable industry practices used to hike real prices 24% over advertised ones

Your cable company advertises one price, but charges another, much higher one: on average, your real bill will be 24% higher than the price you were promised. Read the rest

Wework, Uber, Lyft, Netflix, Bird, Amazon: late-stage capitalism is all about money-losing predatory pricing aimed at creating monopolies

Wework is definitely a piece of work, a money-hemorrhaging bezzle whose recently ousted founder siphoned a reported $700m out of the company while self-dealing and presiding over a series of bizarre missteps (from serving tequila shots and hosting a dance party with Darryl from Run DMC at the same meeting where he announced mass layoffs to banning his employees from expensing meals containing meat while getting caught eating meat himself). Read the rest

Why do people believe the Earth is flat?

I have an op-ed in today's Globe and Mail, "Why do people believe the Earth is flat?" wherein I connect the rise of conspiratorial thinking to the rise in actual conspiracies, in which increasingly concentrated industries are able to come up with collective lobbying positions that result in everything from crashing 737s to toxic baby-bottle liners to the opioid epidemic. 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

Podcast: DRM Broke Its Promise

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my new Locus column, DRM Broke Its Promise, which recalls the days when digital rights management was pitched to us as a way to enable exciting new markets where we'd all save big by only buying the rights we needed (like the low-cost right to read a book for an hour-long plane ride), but instead (unsurprisingly) everything got more expensive and less capable.

The established religion of markets once told us that we must abandon the idea of owning things, that this was an old fashioned idea from the world of grubby atoms. In the futuristic digital realm, no one would own things, we would only license them, and thus be relieved of the terrible burden of ownership. They were telling the truth. We don’t own things anymore. This summer, Microsoft shut down its ebook store, and in so doing, deactivated its DRM servers, rendering every book the company had sold inert, unreadable. To make up for this, Microsoft sent refunds to the custom­ers it could find, but obviously this is a poor replacement for the books themselves. When I was a bookseller in Toronto, noth­ing that happened would ever result in me breaking into your house to take back the books I’d sold you, and if I did, the fact that I left you a refund wouldn’t have made up for the theft. Not all the books Microsoft is confiscating are even for sale any lon­ger, and some of the people whose books they’re stealing made extensive annotations that will go up in smoke.

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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

Robert Bork is the architect of the inequality crisis

If you know the name Robert Bork, it's probably in the context of his failure to secure Senate confirmation when Ronald Regan put him up for the Supreme Court (his sins from his days in the Nixon administration caught up to him). 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

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

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my essay "A Cycle of Renewal, Broken: How Big Tech and Big Media Abuse Copyright Law to Slay Competition", published today on EFF's Deeplinks; it's the latest in my ongoing series of case-studies of "adversarial interoperability," where new services unseated the dominant companies by finding ways to plug into existing products against those products' manufacturers. This week's installment recounts the history of cable TV, and explains how the legal system in place when cable was born was subsequently extinguished (with the help of the cable companies who benefitted from it!) meaning that no one can do to cable what cable once did to broadcasters. 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

Interoperability and Privacy: Squaring the Circle

Last summer, we published a comprehensive look at the ways that Facebook could and should open up its data so that users could control their experience on the service, and to make it easier for competing services to thrive. Read the rest

Podcast: Interoperability and Privacy: Squaring the Circle

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my essay "Interoperability and Privacy: Squaring the Circle, published today on EFF's Deeplinks; it's another in the series of "adversarial interoperability" explainers, this one focused on how privacy and adversarial interoperability relate to each other. Read the rest

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