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    The Senate bill that has Big Tech scared / ArsTechnica · Saturday, 9 April - 11:06

The Senate bill that has Big Tech scared

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If you want to know how worried an industry is about a piece of pending legislation, a decent metric is how apocalyptic its predictions are about what the bill would do. By that standard, Big Tech is deeply troubled by the American Innovation and Choice Online Act.

The infelicitously named bill is designed to prevent dominant online platforms—like Apple and Facebook and, especially, Google and Amazon—from giving themselves an advantage over other businesses that must go through them to reach customers. As one of two antitrust bills voted out of committee by a strong bipartisan vote ( the other would regulate app stores), it may be this Congress’ best, even only, shot to stop the biggest tech companies from abusing their gatekeeper status.

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    EU announces Big Tech crackdown, demands interoperability between platforms / ArsTechnica · Friday, 25 March - 17:56

A European Union flag blowing in the wind.

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European regulators have agreed on a Digital Markets Act that would impose a variety of new requirements on Big Tech companies classified as "gatekeepers." Final votes on the legislation are still pending.

"The text provisionally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators targets large companies providing so-called 'core platform services' most prone to unfair business practices, such as social networks or search engines, with a market capitalization of at least 75 billion euro or an annual turnover of 7.5 billion," a European Parliament announcement said yesterday. "To be designated as 'gatekeepers,' these companies must also provide certain services such as browsers, messengers, or social media, which have at least 45 million monthly end users in the EU and 10,000 annual business users."

Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook owner Meta, and Microsoft would apparently have to comply with the new rules. "The Digital Markets Act puts an end to the ever-increasing dominance of Big Tech companies. From now on, they must show that they also allow for fair competition on the Internet," said Andreas Schwab, a member of the European Parliament from Germany and rapporteur for Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee.

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    Big Tech spent decades skirting geopolitical issues. That’s no longer an option / ArsTechnica · Monday, 28 February - 18:00

Big Tech spent decades skirting geopolitical issues. That’s no longer an option

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Big Tech companies, for the most part, have been able to have their cake and eat it, too.

By pitching themselves as neutral platforms that prioritize free expression—while at the same time bowing to local pressure to remove or restrict certain content—they’ve enjoyed rather broad access to nearly all the world’s markets. Even Russia, which for decades during the Soviet era fought to keep Western media out, has let them in.

That may be about to change, though.

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    California’s strict child-data bill would limit Big Tech data collection / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 16 February - 17:22

California’s strict child-data bill would limit Big Tech data collection

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California lawmakers plan to introduce a new bill to protect children’s data online this Thursday, mirroring the UK’s recently introduced children’s code, as part of growing momentum globally for stricter regulation on Big Tech.

The California age appropriate design code bill will require many of the world’s biggest tech platforms headquartered in the state—such as social media group Meta and Google’s YouTube to limit the amount of data they collect from young users and the location tracking of children in the state.

If passed into law, it will also place restrictions on profiling younger users for targeted advertising, mandate the introduction of "age-appropriate" content policies, and ban serving up behavioral nudges that might trick them into weakening their privacy protections.

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    Big Tech increases funding to US foreign policy think tanks / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 1 February - 16:03

Big Tech increases funding to US foreign policy think tanks

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The world’s largest technology companies are pouring money into the biggest foreign policy think tanks in the US, as they seek to advance the argument that stricter competition rules will benefit China.

Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are behind an increase in funding to four of Washington’s most prestigious research groups: the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Center for a New American Security, Brookings and the Hudson Institute.

Total donations from Big Tech companies to the four think-tanks have risen from at least $625,000 in 2017-18 to at least $1.2 million in 2019-20, according to a Financial Times analysis of financial disclosures. These figures could be as high as $1.2 million in 2017-18 to $2.7 million in 2019-20.

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    Souveraineté numérique : les enjeux géopolitiques / LeVentSeLeve · Tuesday, 1 February - 00:10

Le 15 janvier 2020, Le Vent Se Lève organisait une série de conférences sur la souveraineté numérique en partenariat avec l’Institut Rousseau, le Portail de l’intelligence économique et Le Vent du Changement à l’Université Panthéon-Assas. La lutte pour l’indépendance numérique engage désormais l’avenir industriel, démocratique et géopolitique des nations. Des données critiques de nos services publics (en particulier de santé et de sécurité) à celles de nos grandes entreprises industrielles, rien ne semble échapper à la prédation des géants numériques américains. Durant cette première conférence consacrée aux enjeux géopolitiques de la souveraineté numérique, Tariq Krim (entrepreneur et pionnier du web français), Ophélie Coelho (membre du conseil scientifique de l’Institut Rousseau), Clothilde Bômont, (chercheure au centre de recherche GEODE) et Jean-Paul Smets (fondateur de Nexedi et créateur du logiciel libre ERP5) sont intervenus. La discussion a été modérée par Simon Woillet, directeur de la rubrique Idées du Vent Se Lève.

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    Antitrust bill that bars Big Tech self-preferencing advances in Senate / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 20 January - 22:17

The dome of the United State Capitol Building against a deep blue sky in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / The dome of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Phil Roeder )

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16-6 today to advance an antitrust bill that would prevent Big Tech firms from giving their own services preferential treatment.

The bill attempts to limit the ability of dominant firms to “unfairly preference” their own products or services in a way that would harm competition. For example, Apple and Google could not rank their own apps higher than competitors’ on app stores or in searches. With five Republican senators voting alongside Democrats, the bill has a reasonable chance of passing once it hits the Senate floor. A similar bill has been introduced in the House.

“We haven’t meaningfully updated our antitrust laws since the birth of the Internet,” said Senate co-sponsor Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in a committee hearing today. “We have to look at this differently than just startup companies in a garage. That’s not what they are anymore.”

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    Facebook’s data center plans rile residents in the Netherlands / ArsTechnica · Sunday, 9 January - 12:09

Facebook’s data center plans rile residents in the Netherlands

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When Susan Schaap, 61, travels from her Dutch hometown of Zeewolde to the nearest city of Leylystad, the 30-minute drive takes her through vast tulip fields, interrupted only by wind turbines and sometimes sheep. But if Facebook parent company Meta’s plans are approved, her view would be replaced by the Netherlands’ largest ever data center.

Meta’s data center is “too big for a small town like Zeewolde,” says Schaap, who has become one of the project’s most vocal opponents. “There are 200 data centers in the Netherlands already,” she argues, and the move would give huge swathes of farmland to just one company, “which is not fair.”

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