Google began its appeal Monday of a $5 billion fine levied by a European regulator over alleged market abuses.
The European Commission slapped the tech giant with the fine in 2018 for a number of alleged anticompetitive practices, including forcing smartphone makers to pre-install the Google Chrome browser to be able to install the Google Play Store, and imposing restrictions discouraging smartphone makers from manufacturing devices that run unofficial versions of the Android operating system. The commission alleged Google used these requirements to keep out competitors and maintain its monopoly position in Android distribution.
Apple is reportedly working on iPhone technology capable of detecting and diagnosing depression, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The tech giant is developing the iPhone features to reliably detect and diagnose depression as well as cognitive decline, people familiar with the matter told the WSJ. The technology is being developed in partnership with researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and pharmaceutical company Biogen.
The technology is in its early stages of development, according to the WSJ, but will collect data on iPhone users’ mobility and sleep patterns, physical activity, and other behaviors. However, researchers are still unsure whether they can create algorithms that reliably detect the mental health state of users.
Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters wants to break up Big Tech and ban their business practices he believes are harmful.
“I think Republicans need to reacquaint themselves with their history of antitrust enforcement, and realize huge concentrations of power in private hands can violate people’s liberties just as much as government,” Masters said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Masters, who announced his candidacy in July, serves as chief operating officer at investment firm Thiel Capital and runs the Thiel Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by billionaire investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. He competes in a crowded Republican primary with fellow candidate and current Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for the chance to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in 2022.
A judge ruled Friday that Apple engaged in anticompetitive conduct in its App Store, concluding a lawsuit filed by game developers alleging the tech giant was an illegal monopolist.
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled Friday that Apple’s policy of preventing app developers from linking to third-party payment systems within their apps was anticompetitive, forcing the iPhone maker to change its app store guidelines. However, Rogers ruled in favor of Apple on several other allegations, finding the tech giant did not illegally maintain a monopoly.
“While the Court finds that Apple enjoys considerable market share of over 55% and extraordinarily high profit margins, these factors alone do not show antitrust conduct,” Rogers wrote. “Success is not illegal.”
Apple is delaying the release of a software update that scans iPhones for child pornography after criticism suggested that the features violated user privacy, the tech giant announced Friday.
“Previously we announced plans for features intended to help protect children from predators who use communication tools to recruit and exploit them and to help limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material,” the company said in a statement posted to its website Friday. “Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers, and others, we have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features.”
Apple and Google might change their app store business practices because of a new South Korean law similar to recent legislative efforts by U.S. lawmakers.
The new law would prohibit app stores, including Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, from forcing developers to use the tech giants’ payment systems, The Wall Street Journal reported. The bill, passed by South Korea’s National Assembly, will become law once signed by President Moon Jae-in.
The Korean bill is similar to a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Amy Klobuchar, and Marsha Blackburn to the U.S. Senate earlier this month that seeks “to promote competition and reduce gatekeeper power in the app economy, increase choice, improve quality, and reduce costs for consumers.” Both bills prevent app stores from requiring the use of their billing systems and take aim at the tech giants’ commission structure.
Despite calls for increased regulation of the tech industry, Congress has yet to pass any major legislation, leaving it up to the states to take action curbing tech companies’ power and influence.
Meanwhile, state legislatures have introduced and enacted legislation on data privacy, antitrust, and content moderation, while state attorneys general have issued a number of legal challenges alleging anticompetitive business practices.
Apple proposed a settlement with app developers Thursday, requiring the tech company to restructure its app store and change some of its more controversial practices.
The agreement, still pending court approval, would settle a class action antitrust lawsuit filed by app developers against Apple for alleged anticompetitive practices in its app store.
The company will now permit app developers to use information obtained in their apps to directly communicate with consumers about payment options outside the app store, Apple announced in court filings Thursday. This helps developers avoid paying Apple a commission on app purchases, and grants developers greater control over their apps.
Apple allows underage users to access dating and pornography applications, according to a recent investigation by a technology watchdog group.
The findings, released by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) Wednesday, reveal that users with an underage Apple ID can download and access applications “limited to people 17 and older” by Apple’s App Store. Such applications include many like Tinder or Bumble as well as some that are of an explicitly pornographic nature.
Senators from both parties introduced a bill Wednesday targeting alleged anticompetitive conduct among Apple and Google app stores.
The Open App Markets Act, introduced Wednesday by Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn along with Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar, would prevent app stores such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store from requiring developers to use the tech giants’ in-app payment systems as a condition of distribution. The bill would also stop Apple and Google from taking “punitive action” against developers who offer different pricing terms in other app stores.
“This legislation will tear down coercive anticompetitive walls in the app economy, giving consumers more choices and smaller startup tech companies a fighting chance,” Blumenthal said in a joint statement.
Apple plans to scan all iPhone in the U.S. for potential child abuse imagery.
The move announced Thursday generated shock waves among security experts who say it could allow the company to surveil many millions of phones for reasons unrelated to images of child abuse.
“This sort of tool can be a boon for finding child pornography in people’s phones. But image what it could do in the hands of an authoritarian government,” tweeted Johns Hopkins professor and cryptographer Matthew Green.
Big Tech companies reported massive, record-breaking earnings figures as their sales continued to surge amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Google, Apple, Microsoft and Twitter all beat earnings estimates and showed large revenue growth, executives for the tech companies said during earnings calls Tuesday evening. The four companies’ earnings reports suggested that the growth experienced by Big Tech during the pandemic will continue apace.
“Our long-term investments in AI and Google Cloud are helping us drive significant improvements in everyone’s digital experience,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement Tuesday, explaining his company’s strong performance.
Last-minute changes to major antitrust legislation working its way through the House appears to exempt several Big Tech companies from being affected by its regulations.
The legislation, which has been months in the making and was crafted to take on Big Tech monopolies, targets a handful of companies while excluding others that also have massive market power, a leading expert told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Existing federal and state antitrust law already prohibits a wide range of anticompetitive business activity across all industries like unlawful mergers and monopolization.
There are few, if any, political issues that now generate the breadth and intensity of bipartisan backlash as does the rise of Big Tech.
During Donald Trump’s presidency, the major parties largely diverged on their specific grievances against the woke Silicon Valley monopolists who serve as gatekeepers for America’s 21st-century public square. Republicans, by and large, focused on censorship of conservative online speech. Democrats, by contrast, tended to focus on economic concentration; the five American corporations with the largest market caps, for example, are tech behemoths Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google Alphabet, and Facebook. This divergence has stymied efforts to rein in the Big Tech oligarchy on issues such as Section 230, the 1990s-era provision permitting platforms to engage in publisher-like content-moderation decisions without being legally treated as publishers.
Conservatives still have myriad concerns with Big Tech’s noxious brew of speech suppressions, shadow bans, and unaccountable deplatformings. Those concerns are both legitimate and justified by Big Tech’s ever-expanding list of misdeeds. But there is an emerging sea change in the way conservatives conceptualize the relationship between Big Tech’s unfettered content-moderation leeway and the sheer economic clout wielded by the relevant corporate actors.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection this week announced that it had discovered and seized tens of thousands of counterfeit Apple Airpods, a bust the agency said was likely worth around $7 million.
CBP officials earlier this month “inspected three large shipments from China and found what appeared to be tens of thousands of earbuds in violation of Apple’s protected configurations,” the agency said in a press release.
“Each shipment contained 12,000 fake AirPods, for a total of 36,000,” the press release stated. “Although each package had a declared value of $5,280, the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for all the AirPods would have been $7.16 million had they been genuine.” The bogus products were bound for a Kentucky address.
According to a the most recent quarterly censorship report card from the Media Research Center (MRC), most of the major Silicon Valley tech titans are failing to protect freedom of expression.
“By almost any measure, the first three months of 2021 were the worst ever for online freedom. Amazon, Twitter, Apple, Google, Facebook, YouTube and others proved to the world that the Big Tech censorship of conservatives is a reality,” the group said. “And they did so in disturbing, authoritarian ways that highlight their unchecked power over information and our political process.”
Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s annual compensation increased by 28% in 2020 even as the coronavirus pandemic sparked a recession, according to filings.
Tim Cook’s 2020 compensation totaled $14.7 million, which was mainly comprised of performance-based pay, according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings released Tuesday, Business Insider reported. While the coronavirus pandemic sparked a recession in the spring, Apple consistently reported positive financial figures including increased revenue and growth throughout 2020.
Netflix is raising most of its U.S. prices by 8% to 13% as its video streaming service rides a wave of rising popularity spurred by government-imposed lockdowns that corralled people at home during the fight against the pandemic.
The increases imposed Friday boost the cost of Netflix’s most popular U.S. streaming plan by $1 to $14 per month, while a premium plan that allows more people to watch the service on different screens simultaneously will now cost $2 more at $18 per month. Netflix’s basic U.S. plan remains at $9 per month. It marks Netflix’s first price changes in the U.S. since an increase rolled out early last year.
Apple has ramped up development of its own search engine technology as antitrust U.S. and European Union regulators scrutinize Google, according to a Financial Times report.
The Silicon Valley tech giant has subtly started the transition away from its reliance on the Google search engine, The Financial Times reported. Apple’s latest software update iOS 14, for example, directs users directly to links when they search for a term on their device’s home screen.
Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have abused their monopoly power and must undergo significant restructuring, according to a House report released Tuesday.
Lawmakers who wrote the report said the four tech companies had grown into monopolies akin to “oil barons and railroad tycoons” and suggested an overhaul to U.S. antitrust laws, according to The New York Times. The lengthy report, spearheaded by Democratic Reps. Jerrold Nadler and David Cicilline, is the result of a 15-month House Judiciary Committee investigation into the companies collectively known as Big Tech.
Apple is the first U.S. company to boast a market value of $2 trillion, just two years after it became the first to reach $1 trillion.
Apple shares have gained nearly 60% this year as the company overcame the shutdown of factories in China that produce the iPhone and the closure of its retail sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Virginia has rolled out a smartphone app to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus, becoming the first U.S. state to use new pandemic technology created by Apple and Google.
But hopes for a nationwide app that can work seamlessly across state borders remain unrealized, and there are no known federal plans to create one. State officials say their new app won’t work as well outside Virginia, at least until a group of coordinating public health agencies gets a national server up and running and other states join in.
Friday’s widespread crashes of popular apps running on the iPhone’s iOS operating system — including Tinder, Spotify and Pinterest — serve as a reminder that Facebook is still tracking you through your phone using sophisticated software, even if you’re not browsing the social network.
Early Friday, users of the apps reported crashes when they tried to open them up. Facebook attributed the problem, which was quickly fixed, to a bug in its software development kit, or SDK, a tool developers use to integrate their apps with Facebook.
Apple is closing 11 stores in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina that it had reopened just few weeks ago as coronavirus infections rates in some regions in the U.S. begin to rise.
The decision announced Friday is another sign that the pandemic might prevent the economy from bouncing back as quickly as some states have been hoping. Those concerns sent stocks on Wall Street lower Friday.
Amazon, Twitter, and other major tech companies are facing intense criticism on antitrust issues and censorship claims in the months since government officials reportedly began asking for help from Silicon Valley on ways to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
The president and lawmakers have turned their sights on Twitter and Amazon, respectively, while Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other attorneys general are reportedly ratcheting up their antitrust investigation targeting Google’s business model. The White House asked them in March to fight coronavirus disinformation while also assisting the government in its virus response.