Facebook could face a state antitrust lawsuit as soon as next week

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, October 23, 2019.

Erin Scott | Reuters

State attorneys general are preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook as soon as next week, sources familiar with the matter told CNBC’s Ylan Mui. At least 20 to 30 states could join in, the sources said.

The news comes as multiple outlets have reported the Federal Trade Commission is likely to file its own antitrust lawsuit against the social media giant. It’s still unclear where the FTC may choose to bring a case — either in federal court or before its administrative law judge. If it chooses to bring the case in-house, it cannot combine its lawsuit with the states. Reuters previously reported the states were planning an antitrust case against Facebook.

Both the FTC and the state AGs, led by New York’s Letitia James,

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Facebook Faces Antitrust Lawsuit From as Many as 40 U.S. States

A group of U.S. states led by New York is investigating Facebook  (FB) – Get Report for potential antitrust violations, with plans to file a lawsuit against the social media giant.

Citing four sources familiar with the situation, Reuters reported that more than 40 states are behind the lawsuit, which is expected to be filed as soon as next week.

Facebook and other tech giants including Amazon.com  (AMZN) – Get Report, Apple  (AAPL) – Get Report and Alphabet-owned Google  (GOOGL) – Get Report have been accused of using their size and reach to direct consumers to their own products and services, stifling competition in the process.

Specifically, federal and state antitrust authorities are probing whether Facebook is taking advantage of its size and platforms in search and advertising practices – in particular through third-party platforms it owns like Instagram and WhatsApp.

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The FTC and state attorneys general are reportedly aiming up to 4 new antitrust lawsuits at Facebook and Google as talk of regulation continues to heat up



a close up of Sundar Pichai wearing glasses and looking at the camera: Carsten Koall/Getty Images; Alex Wong/Getty Images


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Carsten Koall/Getty Images; Alex Wong/Getty Images

  • The Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general are gearing up to hit Google and Facebook with new antitrust lawsuits in the coming weeks, per a Monday report from The Wall Street Journal.
  • The probes will focus on whether the companies have had unfair advantages in their domination of the search and ad market and social media.
  • The DOJ and state attorneys generals have been probing aspects of Google’s business, including its search, online advertising, and Android practices, since 2019. The DOJ filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google in October.
  • But if the government sued Facebook, it would be the first major US government antitrust action taken against the social media company.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Federal and state officials are gearing up to slap Facebook and Google with up to four new antitrust lawsuits by

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Tech Antitrust During Biden, ADR for Copyright Small Claims and Cybersecurity in State and Local Governments

This week in Washington IP news, Senate committees will convene a series of business meetings, including one by the Senate Judiciary Committee to look at a proposed bill that would create an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) pathway for resolving copyright small claims. The Senate Environment Committee will also discuss a proposed legislative draft designed to restore American dominance in nuclear energy in part by supporting the licensing of advanced nuclear energy technologies. Elsewhere, the Brookings Institution will host a pair of events exploring the impacts of smart machines on the American labor force as well as the future of antitrust policy in the tech sector during the Biden Administration.

Tuesday, December 1 

Brookings Institution 

The Future of Tech Antitrust in the Biden Administration

At 11:00 AM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

In the United States and around the world, especially in Europe, government antitrust regulators have honed their focus onto

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Apple, others seek to obscure sensitive data in Google antitrust suit

Apple and a number of major tech companies asked a federal judge overseeing the Google antitrust case to hide sensitive information from prying eyes — namely Google.

The companies asked Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to designate certain data used in the Justice Department case as “highly confidential,” reports Reuters.

A protective order would disallow Google employees from viewing private business contracts and other sensitive information that might be divulged in the process of trying the lawsuit. Apple, for example, already disclosed terms of its relationship with Google and expects to be asked for additional information.

The government could request documents pertaining to deals with competing search engines, including internal discussions at Apple regarding negotiation tactics, the report said. Access to Apple’s data could put the iPhone maker at a disadvantage when forging future deals with Google.

Other

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Apple, tech firms wary of disclosure in Google antitrust case

Apple Inc. and other technology companies said confidential material they provided for the U.S. government’s antitrust probe of Alphabet Inc.’s Google should not be shared with the search giant’s in-house lawyers because the information is too sensitive.

In a filing Friday in federal court in Washington, Apple said it gave the U.S. Justice Department “competitively sensitive” documents and that allowing lawyers inside Google to see the information would result in “material harm” to Apple. A similar joint filing was made by Amazon.com Inc., AT&T Inc., Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., Comcast Corp., Sonos Inc., Duck Duck Go Inc. and T-Mobile US Inc.

Concerns about such disclosures have emerged since the government sued Google, alleging abuse of its power to thwart competition. The Justice Department and Google have clashed over the extent of access to information collected by the government before it sued. The judge overseeing the case, Amit Mehta, has yet

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State, federal antitrust lawsuits likely to challenge Facebook for buying rivals and weaponizing data

With the text-messaging service WhatsApp, in particular, Facebook had promised users that it would preserve the messaging company’s independence and strong privacy protections when it was purchased in 2014. It made the same commitment to regulators, who then gave a green light to the deal. But Facebook reversed course years later and has sought to integrate its users’ data with the social networking site’s other services, a controversial move that has raised fresh concerns given the tech giant’s past privacy mishaps.

Investigators also have eyed the way in which Facebook manages its vast trove of user data, and the policies it has in place that govern when and how third-party app developers and other companies can access it — setting up the potential, the three sources said, for forthcoming state and federal complaints to contend that Facebook weaponized its most valuable assets as a way to stamp out emerging rivals.

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EU auditors see uphill battle for EU antitrust regulators versus big tech

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU antitrust enforcers face an uphill battle in tackling tech giants abusing their dominance because of the difficulty of finding remedies, the EU’s budget watchdog said on Thursday in its first audit of the regulators.

The report by the European Court of Auditors comes as critics of Google GOOGL.O voiced frustration at what they say is ineffective enforcement of a series of EU rulings ordering it to stop favouring its own online services to the disadvantage of competitors.

Besides Google, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is also investigating Amazon AMZN.O, Apple AAPL.O and Facebook FB.O.

“Although the Commission has taken a number of case decisions tackling challenges resulting from the digital economy, significant challenges remain to be resolved,” the watchdog said.

“For example, practices in digital markets can cause damage to consumers. However, it is difficult for the Commission to find appropriate remedies to tackle

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EU auditors: Antitrust probes too slow to curb tech giants

A report says that the EU’s efforts to rein in the power of big tech companies such as Google and Facebook through antitrust investigations have taken too long, dulling their effectiveness

Legal tools available to the bloc’s competition regulators, meanwhile, have not kept pace with digital markets, allowing Silicon Valley giants to eliminate rivals, said the report by the European Court of Auditors, which examined the EU’s enforcement of competition rules over the past decade.

European Union authorities have been at the forefront of global efforts to bring the tech giants to heel but they’ve been criticized for lengthy investigations that have resulted in

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Apple might appease antitrust concerns by suggesting third-party apps to new iPhone owners

Apple has been staring down the barrel of numerous antitrust investigations this past year, after app developers like Spotify and Rakuten accused the company of unfairly advantaging Apple’s own apps ahead of theirs. But Apple is apparently working on a new feature that might address at least one of the common concerns, by proactively suggesting third-party apps (apps that Apple doesn’t make) to iPhone and iPad users when they first set up their devices. Will Apple suggest Spotify alongside Apple Music? That could be on the table.

9to5Mac spotted the feature in the new iOS 14.3 beta, and it seems pretty clear from the accompanying text that the feature is designed to satisfy countries who take a dim view of Apple’s current stance. “In compliance with regional legal requirements, continue to view available apps to download,” reads part of the code, suggesting that it’ll only be rolled out in regions

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