Rumor: DoJ is going to investigate Google for antitrust violations

According to a widely reported rumor -- first published by the WSJ -- the DoJ is preparing to launch an antitrust probe of Google, though it's not clear on what basis such a probe would proceed. Read the rest

Nobel-winning economist Joe Stiglitz calls neoliberalism "a failed ideology" and sketches out a "progressive capitalism" to replace it

Joe Stiglitz (previously) holds a Nobel Prize in Economics (not an actual Nobel Prize), and has been an outspoken critic of the rigged economy and austerity. Read the rest

Congressional shaming prompts notorious Pentagon price-gouger to refund $16.1m

Transdigm is a notorious military supplier/hedge fund that used acquisitions to attain a monopoly over many spare parts so they could charge exorbitant markups -- as high as 4,451%! -- on materials procured with tax dollars. Read the rest

AT&T's dystopian advertising vision perfectly illustrates the relationship between surveillance and monopoly

AT&T has come a long way from the supernormative, feel-good messages of its You Will ads; now CEO Randall Stephenson predicts a future where his company will dynamically alter your TV ads based on what it thinks you will buy; and chase you with that ad from your TV to your computer to your phone, and then spy on your location to see whether you go to a retailer to buy the thing you've had advertised to you; and use that intelligence to command high advertising rates from advertisers. Read the rest

Federal lawsuit calls college textbook/ebook packages a "scam"

The Virginia Pirate Corporation is a startup that brokers sales of used textbooks at colleges; they're suing North Charleston, SC's Trident Technical College over its inclusion of textbook fees in tuition, meaning that students will have already paid for new textbooks when they pay their tuition. Read the rest

Los Angeles! Come see me at Exposition Park library tonight talking about Big Tech, monopolies, mind control and the right of technological self-determination

From 6PM-730PM tonight (Thursday, May 23), I'm presenting at the Exposition Park Library (Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library, 3900 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90062) on the problems of Big Tech and how the problems of monopolization (in tech and every other industry) is supercharged by the commercial surveillance industry -- and what we can do about it. It's part of the LA Public Library's "Book to Action" program and it's free to attend -- I hope to see you there! Read the rest

Americans believe that they should own the mountains of data produced by their cars, but they don't

Your car is basically a smartphone with wheels, and it gathers up to 25gb/hour worth of data on you and your driving habits -- everything from where you're going to how much you weigh. Cars gather your financial data, data on the number of kids in the back seat, and, once they're connected to your phone, data on who you call and text. Read the rest

Europe's top trustbuster thinks it'll be impossible to break up Facebook

Margrethe Vestager (previously) is the EU Commissioner responsible for handing out billions in fines to Big Tech to punish them for monopolistic practices. Read the rest

Watch: Tim Wu debates trustbusting with Tyler Cowen, who just wrote "a love letter" to Big Business

Competition scholar Tim Wu (previously) is one of the most cogent, accessible voices in the antitrust debate; his recent book on the subject is a must-read; this week, he debated George Mason University scholar Tyler Cowen, proprietor of Marginal Revolution and one of the leading voices for the expansion of unfettered, unregulated capitalism -- he's the face of the notorious Mercatus Center, where rich donors choose the faculty and out pop arguments against universal health care and Net Neutrality. Read the rest

Alex Stamos on the security problems of the platforms' content moderation, and what to do about them

Alex Stamos (previously) is the former Chief Security Officer of Yahoo and Facebook. I've jokingly called him a "human warrant canary" because it seems that whenever he leaves a job, we later learn that his departure was precipitated by some terrible compromise the company was making -- he says that he prefers to be thought of as "the Forrest Gump of infosec" because whenever there is a terrible geopolitical information warfare crisis, he's in the background, playing ping-pong. Read the rest

LA! Come see me this Saturday at the Nebula Awards Conference, and next Thursday at Exposition Park Library!

This Saturday, May 18, I'll be appearing at the Nebula Awards Conference, at the Marriott Warner Center in Woodland Hills: I'll be participating in the 1:30PM mass signing in the Grand Ballroom and then I'll be on the "Megatrends for the Near Future" panel at 4PM in A/B Salon. Read the rest

Supreme Court greenlights Apple customers' lawsuit over App Store price-fixing

The Supreme Court has ruled on a key question in Apple Inc v Pepper, a class action suit arguing that the App Store violated antitrust law by driving up prices through the monopolistic tactic of prohibiting users from buying apps from third parties, and then taking a 30% commission on every app sold, which led software companies to raise prices in order to remain profitable after Apple had taken its cut. Read the rest

Amazon's monopsony power: the other antitrust white meat

In 2017, law student Lina Khan shifted the debate on Amazon and antitrust with a seminal paper called Amazon's Antitrust Paradox, which used Amazon's abusive market dominance to criticize the Reagan-era shift in antitrust enforcement, which rewrote the criteria for antitrust enforcement, so that antitrust no longer concerned itself with preventing monopoly, and only focused on "consumer harm" in the form of higher prices. Read the rest

Co-founder of Facebook calls for breakup of Facebook

Chris Hughes co-founded Facebook with Mark Zukerberg, and describes Zuckerberg in warm terms as a friend, but in a long op-ed for the New York Times, Hughes calls for the breakup of Facebook and identifies Zuckerberg's shortsighted prioritization of "clicks" instead of "security and civility" for the platform's toxicity, blaming the company's unusual share structure (which gives Zuckerberg an absolute veto over all matters of company policy despite holding a minority of its shares) for a situation in which Zuckerberg is surrounded by yes-men who never check his worst impulses. Read the rest

Charter's new way to be terrible: no more prorated cancellations

Charter isn't America's most hated company, but that's only because Comcast is so next-level terrible that they distort the leaderboard; nevertheless, Charter tries hard! Whether it's slashing billions from network outlays while raising prices way ahead of inflation or lying so egregiously that they get kicked out of New York State, Charter is relentless in its pursuit of ways to be a shitty, shitty company. Read the rest

"Steering With the Windshield Wipers": why nothing we're doing to fix Big Tech is working

My latest Locus column is "Steering with the Windshield Wipers," and it ties together the growth of Big Tech with the dismantling of antitrust law (which came about thanks to Robert Bork's bizarre alternate history of antitrust, a theory so ridiculous that it never would have gained traction except that it promised to make rich people a lot richer). Read the rest

How the diverse internet became a monoculture

I appeared on this week's Canadaland podcast (MP3) with Jesse Brown to talk about the promise of the internet 20 years ago, when it seemed that we were headed for an open, diverse internet with decentralized power and control, and how we ended up with an internet composed of five giant websites filled with screenshots from the other four. Jesse has been covering this for more than a decade (I was a columnist on his CBC podcast Search Engine, back in the 2000s) and has launched a successful independent internet business with Canadaland, but as he says, the monopolistic gentrification of the internet is heading for podcasting like a meteor. Read the rest

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