FTC and 48 Attorneys General Sue to Break Up Facebook

The FTC and 48 Attorneys General filed two separate lawsuits against Facebook on Wednesday.  The suit attempts to break up the tech giant into its component parts.

The lawsuit also accuses Facebook of illegally suppressing competition by purchasing rival companies that challenged its dominance.

So is Google next?

Gizmodo reported:

Dozens of attorney generals, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, filed two separate lawsuits against Facebook on Wednesday which attempt to break the social media giant into its component parts: specifically, the divestiture of WhatsApp and Instagram.

The lawsuits claim Facebook illegally suppressed competition by purchasing rival companies that challenged its dominance. This includes its purchase of Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, and its $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014. Facebook’s aggressive acquisitions of competing companies, which helped bring the company’s total value to more than $800 billion, violates the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act, the lawsuits claim.

“Facebook has used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users,” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading the effort, said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Instead of improving its own product, Facebook took advantage of consumers and made billions of dollars converting their personal data into a cash cow.”

Deleware Attorney General Kathy Jennings echoed James, comparing Facebook to the railroad and telecom monopolies of the past.

“Whether it’s railroads, telecom, or social media, monopolies undermine our economy’s foundation of consumer choice,” Jennings said in a statement. “Facebook knowingly, openly, and illegally made digital hostages of its users and developers over a decade of unfair acquisitions and mistreatment of developers. We are suing not just to hold this company accountable for its conduct, but to release consumers from a monopoly and to allow Delawareans the choice and freedom they deserve.”

Source: TGP

DOJ Files Long-Awaited Antitrust Suit Against Google

The Justice Department has filed its long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Google, alleging that the Big Tech Masters of the Universe engaged in anticompetitive practices to preserve its monopoly power and crush competitors to its search and advertising businesses. The Wall Street Journal first broke the story on Tuesday morning that the lawsuit would finally be filed.

According to a report by Reuters, the DOJ has filed its hotly-anticipated antitrust lawsuit against Google. 11 states also joined the DOJ action against the internet giant.

Reuters writes:

The U.S. Justice Department and 11 states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc’s Google on Tuesday for allegedly breaking the law in using its market power to fend off rivals.

The lawsuit marks the biggest antitrust case in a generation, comparable to the lawsuit against Microsoft Corp filed in 1998 and the 1974 case against AT&T which led to the breakup of the Bell System.

Google, whose search engine is so ubiquitous that its name has become a verb, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company had revenue of $162 billion in 2019, more than the nation of Hungary.

The Reuters report confirms the news this morning from the Wall Street Journal that the Justice Department would file an antitrust lawsuit against tech giant Google today, claiming that the company engaged in anticompetitive practices in order to preserve monopolies in the search and advertising components that make up huge sections of the tech firm’s main business.

The WSJ writes:

The department will allege that Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., GOOG -2.44%▲ is maintaining its status as gatekeeper to the internet through an unlawful web of exclusionary and interlocking business agreements that shut out competitors, officials said. The government will allege that Google uses billions of dollars collected from advertisements on its platform to pay mobile-phone manufacturers, carriers and browsers, like Apple Inc.’s Safari, to maintain Google as their preset, default search engine.

The upshot is that Google has pole position in search on hundreds of millions of American devices, with little opportunity for any competitor to make inroads, the government will allege.

Justice officials said the lawsuit will also take aim at arrangements in which Google’s search application is preloaded, and can’t be deleted, on mobile phones running its popular Android operating system. The government will allege Google unlawfully prohibits competitors’ search applications from being preloaded on phones under revenue-sharing arrangements, they said.

Breitbart News previously reported that the Justice Department has been planning to bring an antitrust case against Google for some time. The recent filing comes after Attorney General William P. Barr reportedly overruled lawyers who said they needed more time to build a case against the tech giant.

It was reported that the company has been under investigation for almost a year with dozens of Justice Department lawyers working in two groups, each overseeing a separate line of inquiry. The two main areas being investigated were Google’s dominance in search and the company’s control over the online advertising ecosystem.

Google has control over approximately 90 percent of web searches worldwide, many rivals have complained that  Google extends its dominance by making its search and browsing tools defaults on phones running its Android operating system.

Source: Breitbart

Trump White House Implements EO to Prevent Tech Giants from Altering Users’ Free Speech, Demands Transparency of Moderation Practices

On Wednesday Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Tim Cook testified before Congress in the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust.

Since 2016 and the election of Donald Trump the tech giants have been censoring and banning conservative voices online. Of course, the CEOs dismissed allegations that they are targeting and censoring conservative users despite ALL of the evidence to the contrary.

“If Congress doesn’t bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with Executive Orders,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “In Washington, it has been ALL TALK and NO ACTION for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it!”

On Wednesday afternoon the Trump White House published their executive order on online censorship.  The EO prevents social media giants from altering or editorializing free speech.

The executive order also demands the social media giants provide transparency requirements for their moderation practices!

More…

Via The Trump White House:

On Monday, the Department of Commerce, as directed by President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, filed a petition to clarify the scope of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. The petition requests that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) clarify that Section 230 does not permit social media companies that alter or editorialize users’ speech to escape civil liability. The petition also requests that the FCC clarify when an online platform curates content in “good faith,” and requests transparency requirements on their moderation practices, similar to requirements imposed on broadband service providers under Title I of the Communications Act. President Trump will continue to fight back against unfair, un-American, and politically biased censorship of Americans online.

The executive order calls for social media companies to be stripped of their “liability shield” if they engage in censorship of political content. Trump’s order came two days after Twitter decided to issue an extremely biased “fact-check” on two of the president’s tweets, supporting vote-by-mail practices that are at the center of a lawsuit between the California Republican Party and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.). Trump has condemned the “fact-check” as an attack on free speech.

The president also directed Attorney General William Barr to work with the states “to enforce their own laws against such deceptive business practices.” Echoing other critics of Big Tech, Trump said, “What they’re doing is tantamount to monopoly, you could say. It’s tantamount to taking over the airwaves.”

Without restraining Big Tech censorship, “we’re not going to have a democracy, we’re not going to have anything to do with a republic,” the president warned. He also directed the administration to make sure that “taxpayer dollars are not going to any social media company that represses free speech.” “As president, I will not allow the American people to be bullied by these giant corporations,” Trump added. He teased further legislation on the issue. “I’ve been called by Democrats that want to do this.”

Indeed, in order to enact a new policy that has any real teeth, the president would likely have to work with Congress to amend Section 230. While the administration can issue new regulations to build on the enforcement of laws, the president cannot unilaterally alter the law. However, it is arguable that actions like Twitter’s “fact-check” already violate the stipulations of Section 230, as the president claimed.

In May, President Trump signed an executive order to check social media companies for censoring conservatives online. He said:

They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences. There’s no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction.

Sources:

Google Fined €150 million by France For Engaging in Anti-Competitive Behavior

(Reuters) France’s competition watchdog fined Google (GOOGL.O) 150 million euros ($167 million) on Friday for abusing its power over the treatment of advertisers, saying it applied opaque rules and changed them at will.

It is the first penalty imposed by the French antitrust watchdog against the U.S. tech company in a number of clashes with French authorities, and as Google faces a growing number of investigations into its business practices on both sides of the Atlantic.

Google said it would appeal the decision.

The authority’s investigation took four years and followed a complaint filed by Gibmedia, a French company that manages a range of websites offering weather forecasts, corporate data and directories.

Gibmedia had accused Google of having suspended its Google Ads account without notice.

The regulator said that by changing its terms of use and rules at will, Google had abused its market power.

“The way the rules are applied give Google a power of life or death over some small businesses that live only on this kind of service,” the head of the authority, Isabelle de Silva, said at a news conference.

The French regulator said Google had a lack of objectivity and predictability in defining the rules on Google Ads, the gateway for advertisers that wish to appear in the sponsored section of search results.

With a market share of around 90% in the online search business, Google has a responsibility to offer a fair access to Google Ads, the regulator added.

“One of the great principles of competition law is that with great power comes great responsibility,” de Silva said.

“It’s also Spider-Man’s motto,” she noted, referring to the fictional superhero.

“PROTECTING CONSUMERS”

Google said it blocked Gibmedia because it was running ads for websites that deceived people into paying for services on unclear billing terms.

“We do not want these kinds of ads on our systems, so we suspended Gibmedia and gave up advertising revenue to protect consumers from harm,” Google said in statement.

Gibmedia refuted the allegation.

“Gibmedia has never been convicted of any deceptive practice and it’s unacceptable to see that Google, which has just been once again condemned for anti-competitive practices, has no other defense than to attack its victim,” said Hervé Lehman, Gibmedia’s lawyer.

In September, Google agreed to pay close to 1 billion euros to French authorities to settle a fiscal fraud probe that began four years ago.

In January, France’s data protection watchdog had fined Google 50 million euros for breaching European Union online privacy rules.

The data protection watchdog stated in its January ruling that Google lacked transparency and clarity in the way it informed users about its handling of personal data, and had failed to properly obtain their consent for personalized ads.

Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Jane Merriman and Elaine Hardcastle

Study: Google makes its Websites Faster than Rival Services by Using Code to Dominate Networks

The Telegraph reports that a recent study claims that Google makes its websites faster than rival services by using code to dominate online networks. Researchers from Cargenie Mellon University and software firm Nefell Networks claim in the study that a Google algorithm can dominate almost half of a network’s capacity when there are multiple online services vying for connections.

The report claims that Google-owned websites such as YouTube could stream videos faster than other competitors such as Netflix if users sharing the same connection try to access both sites simultaneously. This algorithm can be used by other services meaning that Google is most likely not the only group doing this, but the research focuses mostly on Google’s role in managing online traffic.

Internet services use algorithms known as “congestion control algorithms” or CCA’s to share bandwidth efficiently across a network and to “throttle” or slow down certain websites or services when the capacity of the connection is stressed.

Researchers found that Google’s algorithm which is called BBR take up 40 percent of internet capacity when multiple services are competing for traffic. Researchers state when the algorithm was active, other services would be granted less than 4 percent capacity.

Google does “open source” the algorithm meaning that other services can take advantage of it. Other websites use different CCAs meaning that they could face slower internet speeds. Researchers state that Google’s algorithm, which went public in 2016, takes a disproportionate share of Internet traffic. Justine Shery of Carnegie Mellon’s computer science department states: “By any traditional version of [network] fairness, BBR is not fair.”

Google has stated that it will be address issues of fairness in a new version of the algorithm being launched soon called BBR V2. Read more about the study here.

Source: https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2019/10/28/study-google-hogs-internet-traffic-to-dominate-competitors/