The answer to the Clearview AI scandal is better privacy laws, not anti-scraping laws

Clearview AI (previously) is a grifty facial recognition company that sells untested, secretive tools to police departments, claiming that they can identify people from security camera footage by matching the pictures those scraped from big social media sites. Read the rest

In serving big company interests, copyright is in crisis

Copyright rules are made with the needs of the entertainment industry in mind, designed to provide the legal framework for creators, investors, distributors, production houses, and other parts of the industry to navigate their disputes and assert their interests. Read the rest

Frontier, a terrible company, is going bankrupt

Frontier is the bottom-rung of the top-tier of US ISPs, serving customers in 29 states. Despite enjoying monopoly control over its customers' online lives, and despite massive government handouts and a lackadaisical approach to maintenance, and despite out-and-out theft from customers, the company is filing for bankruptcy, having accumulated $16.3b in debt through mismanagement. Read the rest

Rating the 30 most evil tech companies

Slate compiled a list of the 30 most evil companies in tech, starting with Mspy (#30) all the way up to Amazon (#1). I weighed in on Oracle (#17, "It takes a lot to make me feel like Google is being victimized by a bully, but Oracle managed it") and Apple (#6, "Apple won’t spy on you for ads, but they’ll help the Chinese government spy on its citizens to keep its supply chain intact"). Read the rest

Podcast: Inaction is a form of action

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my latest Locus column, Inaction is a Form of Action,, where I I discuss how the US government's unwillingness to enforce its own anti-monopoly laws has resulted in the dominance of a handful of giant tech companies who get to decide what kind of speech is and isn't allowed -- that is, how the USG's complicity in the creation of monopolies allows for a kind of government censorship that somehow does not violate the First Amendment. Read the rest

Charter/Spectrum sold customers expensive home security systems, then killed the program and left them high and dry

Prior to being acquired by Charter, the cable company Spectrum aggressively marketed home security systems to its customers, inducing them to spend hundreds of dollars on proprietary cameras and other equipment that integrated with their cable networks and offered them remote monitoring and other services. Read the rest

Three years after the W3C approved a DRM standard, it's no longer possible to make a functional indie browser

Back in 2017, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) approved the most controversial standard in its long history: Encrypted Media Extensions, or EME, which enabled Netflix and other big media companies to use DRM despite changes to browsers extensions that eliminated the kinds of deep hooks that DRM requires. Read the rest

Permitting the growth of monopolies is a form of government censorship

In my latest Locus column, Inaction is a Form of Action, I discuss how the US government's unwillingness to enforce its own anti-monopoly laws has resulted in the dominance of a handful of giant tech companies who get to decide what kind of speech is and isn't allowed -- that is, how the USG's complicity in the creation of monopolies allows for a kind of government censorship that somehow does not violate the First Amendment. Read the rest

VICTORY! New Free File rules ban tax-prep firms from hiding their offerings, allow IRS to compete with them (a love-letter to Propublica)

Six months ago, Propublica began beating the drum about "Free File," a bizarre, corrupt arrangement between the IRS and the country's largest tax-prep firms that ended up costing the poorest people in America millions and millions of dollars, every single year. Read the rest

2019: EFF enters the competition fray

None of us signed up for an Internet composed of "a group of five websites, each consisting of screenshots of text from the other four", but here we are, watching as hyper-concentrated industries rack up catastrophic victories against net neutrality, right to repair, security auditing, and a host of other issues. Read the rest

Insulin prices doubled between 2012 and 2016

The historical excuse for pharma monopolists who conspired to rig prices on insulin was that hardly anyone paid full price -- everyone got their life-saving, non-optional medicine through health plans that negotiated a knock-down price. Read the rest

Distinguishing between "platforms" and "aggregators" in competition law

There's a lot of political will to regulate the Big Tech companies in both the US and the EU at the moment, which is a very welcome juncture to have arrived at after 40 years of antitrust inaction during which companies were permitted to grow by buying nascent competitors, merging with major competitors and cornering vertical markets -- all classic anticompetitive behaviors that Reagan and his successors legalized. Read the rest

Debullshitifying the Right to Repair excuses Apple sent to Congress

Apple's response to the Congressional committee investigating monopolistic behavior by tech giants contains a chapter on Right to Repair, whose greatest enemy is Apple -- the company led successful campaigns to kill 20 state level Right to Repair bills last year. 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

Elizabeth Warren proposes a 4-year ban on government officials going to work for "market dominant" companies

If you leave a senior US government position, Elizabeth Warren wants you to wait at least four years before taking a job at a "market dominant" company -- any company with a $150b (or larger) market cap, or that controls "the product or labor supply in their industry." 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

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