Flashback: Microsoft Anti-trust
Silicon Valley Under The Microscope
The kind of data Big Tech can access poses a much greater threat to competition and innovation than can be imagined. Big Tech has spent billions building the most sophisticated A.I. technology and algorithms which can and will if not kept in check inhibit innovation and competition forever.
They can track how long a person’s attention lingers on a product, which features attract a person’s attention, which images a person views and for how long,and what reviews a person reads. Even Amazon appears to recognize that using this data to develop its own merchandise is problematic. Indeed, Amazon insists it has adopted policies prohibiting this conduct. Yet Amazon’s own employees and document suggest that what Amazon says in its policies and what Amazon does in practice are two different things.
After continued bipartisan conversations with attorneys general from around the country, today I am announcing that we have vastly expanded the list of states, districts, and territories investigating Facebook for potential antitrust violations,” James said in a statement. “Our investigation now has the support of 47 attorneys general from around the nation, who are all concerned that Facebook may have put consumer data at risk, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, and increased the price of advertising.
Attorney General William Barr has spent months taking greater control of the Justice Department’s antitrust probes into the big tech companies, a development that could increase the peril for major players like Google and Facebook.
Barr has centralized oversight of antitrust matters under a handful of appointees in his office and that of his deputy attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen. Those moves have sidelined the Antitrust Division’s current leadership, headed by Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, who for the past year has been the public face of DOJ’s investigations into Silicon Valley’s treatment of its users and customers.
Barr indicated during his confirmation hearing last year that antitrust would be one of his priorities.
Big Tech’s Problems:
Apple’s App Store/Censorship
For Example, Zoom Video has been extremely popular during the pandemic and immediately Google and Facebook built almost identical software to take away Zoom’s market share.
In The Washington Post, Cat Zakrzewski explores three ways Apple has become vulnerable to antitrust action:
It has been prioritizing its own apps in search, as recent investigations by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal has documented.
It regularly turns successful third-party apps into native features of its operating systems.
Its 30 percent cut of revenue has disadvantaged competitors like Spotify, which can artificially inflate its price over what Apple is able to charge for its equivalent service.
From Inc. Magazine:
Ever since Zoom became the most important business app in the world–almost overnight–it has had a great big target on its back. The company has faced intense pressure from competitors and users. Users have complained about the lack of security and privacy features, which has led to the entirely new phenomenon of “Zoom bombing.” Zoom’s competitors, on the other hand, have raced to capitalize on those missteps by upping their own games. Google, for example, has been making moves to steal away Zoom users.
“I think a lot of people wonder how such huge behemoths that now exist in Silicon Valley have taken shape under the nose of the antitrust enforcers,” he told senators.” – Barr
The Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) issued a detailed brief this month reviewing the role of antitrust action and what it could mean for the Pentagon’s access to AI.
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