For Big Tech, Biden brings a new era but no ease in scrutiny


FILE – In this Tuesday, June 16, 2020 file photo, the sun is reflected on Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York. In the years since Barack Obama and Joe Biden left the White House, the tech industry’s political fortunes have flipped. Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple have come under scrutiny from Congress, federal regulators, state attorneys general and European authorities.


The Obama-Biden administration was a charmed era for America’s tech companies — a moment when they were lionized as innovators, hailed as job creators and largely left alone.

Now Joe Biden is coming back, this time as president. But times have changed. The halcyon days of an adoring Washington are unlikely to return when Biden takes the oath of office in January, with mounting legislative and regulatory challenges to the industry — including stronger enforcement of antitrust laws — nearly certain to outlast the tenure

Read More

Google faces UK scrutiny over new advertising data revamp

Google faces fresh regulatory scrutiny in Britain over plans to revamp its ad data system, after a group of competitors complained to regulators that the changes would cement the U.S. tech giant’s online dominance

LONDON — Google faces fresh regulatory scrutiny in Britain over plans to revamp its ad data system, after a group of competitors complained to regulators that the changes would cement the U.S. tech giant’s online dominance.

Marketers for an Open Web, a coalition of technology and publishing companies, said Monday that it’s urging the U.K. competition watchdog to step in and force Google to delay the rollout of its “Privacy Sandbox” scheduled for early next year.

The new technology would remove so-called third party cookies that store user information on devices, replaced

Read More

Amazon Pharmacy is going to be the first big test of public trust in Prime and will expose the company to more scrutiny

Jeff Bezos wearing a suit and tie: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. c

© Provided by Business Insider
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. c

  • This week Amazon launched its new Amazon Pharmacy service, selling prescription and generic medications.
  • Prime members will get a bunch of perks, including huge discounts of up to 80%.
  • By selling healthcare, Amazon Prime is getting into a market where consumers are keenly aware of how sensitive their data is, which means it will have to walk a fine line to maintain public trust.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Amazon launched its new service Amazon Pharmacy on Tuesday, which means the company will be selling both prescription and generic medication to its US customers via its website.


Load Error

The move was not unexpected; industry watchers have been expecting Amazon to move into delivering medications since 2018, when it acquired drug-delivery startup PillPack. The company has also been pushing into healthcare more generally since then.

Amazon Pharmacy is

Read More

Apple to cut app store fees as legal scrutiny intensifies

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Apple will cut its app store commissions in half for most developers beginning next year amid an intensifying debate about whether the iPhone maker has been using the fees to unfairly fatten its profits and stifle rivals competing against its own music, video, and other subscription services.

The concession announced Wednesday will lower Apple’s commissions for in-app subscriptions and other purchases from the 30% rate that has been in place since 2008 to 15%, effective Jan. 1. But the discount will only apply to developers with app store revenue up to $1 million annually — a threshold that excludes the makers of some of the most popular apps downloaded on iPhones, iPads and other Apple devices.

That group includes two of Apple’s fiercest critics, music streaming service Spotify, and Epic, the maker of the popular Fortnite video game.

Both those companies have helped spur increasing

Read More

Tech’s legal shield draws substantive scrutiny.

A law that has legally shielded online platforms — Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — has long been mentioned by lawmakers as a potential target for reform.

President Trump signed an executive order in May to curtail the law. And the legal shield, which largely protects tech companies from the liability for what their users post, has been the topic of other congressional hearings.

Yet when it came down to it, the debate on Section 230 has resulted in minimal concrete discussions. At a hearing last month with chief executives of the social media companies, there was little substantive debate and few suggestions about how to reform the law.

Not on Tuesday. At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter, lawmakers approached Section 230 differently out of the gate. They began with a bipartisan call to change the “golden goose”

Read More

China Ups Scrutiny of Tech Giants With Draft Anti-Monopoly Rules | Technology News

By Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China on Tuesday published draft rules aimed at preventing monopolistic behaviour by internet platforms, a move that will increase scrutiny on e-commerce marketplaces and payment services belonging to the likes of Alibaba Group.

China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), which issued the draft, said it wanted to prevent platforms from dominating the market or from adopting methods aimed at blocking fair competition.

The definitions it provided for internet platforms mean the new rules could apply to e-commerce sites such as Alibaba Group’s

<9988.HK> Taobao and Tmall marketplaces or <9618.HK>

and payment services like Ant Group’s <688688.SS> <6688.HK> Alipay or Tencent Holding’s <0700.HK> WeChat Pay. Food delivery platforms like Meituan <3690.HK> could also be included.

The draft rules would also consider whether a transaction treats different customers in different ways based on big data, payment ability, consumption preferences, and usage

Read More

Biden Is Expected to Keep Scrutiny of Tech Front and Center

WASHINGTON — The tech industry had it easy under President Barack Obama. Regulators brought no major charges, executives rotated in and out of the administration, and efforts to strengthen privacy laws fizzled out.

The industry will have it much harder under president-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Bipartisan support to restrain its power has grown sharply during the Trump administration, and shows no signs of going away as Democrats regain control of the White House. Mr. Biden is expected to take on the Silicon Valley giants on misinformation, privacy and antitrust, in a sharp departure from the polices pursued while he was vice president under Mr. Obama.

“The foundations of the concerns about digital platforms were developing during the Obama years, and yet the major tech issues from the Obama era are still with us and unresolved,” said Chris Lewis, the president of the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge. “The genie

Read More

Airbnb under scrutiny in Europe ahead of digital services act

In this photo illustration, a man looks at the website of Airbnb on April 20, 2020 in Katwijk, Netherlands.

Yuriko Nakao | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON — Airbnb could be among the targeted platforms when the European Union presents a raft of tougher regulations targeting tech companies next month.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, is expected to overhaul the management of content on platforms like Google and Facebook with its Digital Services Act — the first regulation of its kind since 2000.

Its overall aim is to ensure fair competition in the European market, but the rules are expected to require dramatic changes to the business models and practices of Big Tech.

One of the big uncertainties is which platforms will have to abide by the new rules. The Dutch government wants Airbnb to be among them.

“To tackle the side effects of

Read More

Uber, Grubhub, and DoorDash Under Scrutiny as the Industry Consolidates

Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER) is buying Postmates and the ride-hailing businesses of BMW and Daimler, while Just Eat is buying Grubhub (NYSE:GRUB). DoorDash previously acquired Caviar.

Yet as the third-party delivery and ridesharing industry consolidates, it is coming under closer scrutiny from politicians who view its practices as harmful to consumers and the restaurants they serve. More regulation of these businesses may be forthcoming.

Food delivery scooter rider

Image source: Getty Images.

Lining up against delivery

California just banned the practice of adding restaurants to third-party delivery apps that the services don’t have a relationship with. Restaurants that didn’t offer their own delivery service as a means of controlling the quality of their food were still finding their menus listed with the likes of DoorDash, Grubhub, or Uber anyway.

The services argued they were introducing new potential customers to the restaurants, but last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California signed into law

Read More

Microsoft prepares to avoid scrutiny under Biden

(Reuters) — Microsoft, which has largely evaded Washington’s scrutiny of Big Tech companies and has scored a lucrative $10 billion government contract under U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, has emerged as a significant backer of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign.

The Redmond, Washington-based software company is the fourth largest contributor to Biden’s candidate campaign committee, according to data from OpenSecrets, a website that tracks money in politics and campaign finance records.

Microsoft president Brad Smith has played a key role behind the scenes, including hosting a fundraiser for Biden last year in Medina, Washington. He is also a big dollar bundler — someone who helps raise more than $25,000 for a campaign — and played a public role during the Democratic National Convention, similar to Amazon policy chief Jay Carney.

Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott and wife Shannon Hunt-Scott have contributed over $50,000 and supported committees to help

Read More