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    Antitrust bill in Senate would help rein in Big Tech platforms, DOJ says / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 30 March - 18:09

Antitrust bill in Senate would help rein in Big Tech platforms, DOJ says

Enlarge (credit: James Leynse/Corbis)

The Department of Justice is throwing its weight behind an antitrust bill working its way through the Senate, with the department saying that it needs new tools to help police markets dominated by platforms such as Amazon, Meta (formerly Facebook), Apple, and Google.

“The Department views the rise of dominant platforms as presenting a threat to open markets and competition, with risks for consumers, businesses, innovation, resiliency, global competitiveness, and our democracy,” Peter Hyun, acting assistant attorney general, wrote in a letter to the Senate. “Discriminatory conduct by dominant platforms can sap the rewards from other innovators and entrepreneurs, reducing the incentives for entrepreneurship and innovation.” The letter was first obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act, cosponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would limit Big Tech firms’ ability to “unfairly preference” their own products and services. For example, under the proposed bill, Amazon couldn’t boost search rankings of its private-label products, and Apple and Google couldn’t do the same for their apps in their app stores.

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    Putin blocks Russians’ access to Facebook, Twitter, app stores [Updated] / ArsTechnica · Friday, 4 March - 16:47

Putin blocks Russians’ access to Facebook, Twitter, app stores [Updated]

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Update 2:40pm EST: Russia's Internet censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, confirmed that it would be blocking access to Facebook, accusing the company of violating the law by blocking state media outlets from the platform.

When reached for comment by Ars, a Facebook spokesperson cited a statement from Nick Clegg, president of global affairs, who said, "We will continue to do everything we can to restore our services so they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organize for action."

Original article: Russia is reportedly blocking Twitter, Facebook, various news sites, and major app stores, according to a German journalist.

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    Spotify publicly posts content policy as Rogan responds / ArsTechnica · Monday, 31 January - 16:50

Joe Rogan.

Enlarge / Joe Rogan. (credit: Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Spotify publicly posted its platform policies for the first time on Sunday following artists’ outrage over COVID-related episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast.

The policies , which previously weren’t known to the public, offer podcasters and musicians wide latitude over what they can stream on Spotify. They’re similar to the approaches used by other platforms. Spotify does not allow hatred and incitement of violence, deception, graphic depictions of violence, sexually explicit material, and illegal content. The streaming service also says it forbids “content that promotes dangerous false or dangerous deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health.”

"These are rules of the road to guide all of our creators—from those we work with exclusively to those whose work is shared across multiple platforms," CEO Daniel Ek said in a blog post.

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    “Bad mergers” and noncompete clauses targeted in Biden executive order / ArsTechnica · Friday, 9 July, 2021 - 16:22

President Joe Biden speaking into a microphone and gesturing with his hands.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

President Joe Biden announced his anticipated executive order today, and it’s a sweeping document that seeks to counter rising corporate consolidation and foster greater competition in everything from labor markets to mergers, banking, healthcare, device repairs, transportation, broadband, and more.

“For decades, corporate consolidation has been accelerating,” the White House said in a statement . “In over 75 percent of US industries, a smaller number of large companies now control more of the business than they did twenty years ago. This is true across healthcare, financial services, agriculture and more.”

With the order, Biden appears to be positioning himself as an antitrust champion, name-checking famed trust-buster Teddy Roosevelt. That’s no surprise—his appointment of Lena Khan as chair of the Federal Trade Commission telegraphed that he would be taking an aggressive approach to consolidation and anticompetitive practices.

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    Lina Khan, Big Tech skeptic, named FTC chair mere hours after confirmation / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 16 June, 2021 - 16:01 · 1 minute

Lina M. Khan testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee nomination hearing on Capitol Hill on April 21, 2021, in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / Lina M. Khan testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee nomination hearing on Capitol Hill on April 21, 2021, in Washington, DC. (credit: Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images )

President Joe Biden named Lina Khan chair of the Federal Trade Commission just hours after her confirmation in the Senate as one of the agency's five commissioners. It’s an unusual move—newly nominated commissioners are seldom elevated to chair immediately—and it likely signals that the Biden administration will be taking a hawkish approach to antitrust enforcement, particularly when it comes to Big Tech platform companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple.

Though Khan is certain to take a harsher view on platforms, the FTC is unlikely to begin dismantling Big Tech tomorrow. “Lina Khan has pushed the academic conversation on tech, and now she has to push the agenda at the FTC,” Shane Greenstein , a professor at Harvard Business School, told Ars. “A lot of the day to day at the FTC has little to do with tech, and a lot of the agenda is just not up to the chairman. It comes inbound from consumer complaints, merger proposals, etc. It will be interesting to see how she manages that—and with a divided Congress. That just has to be challenging.”

While she may have a rocky trail ahead of her, Khan’s confirmation vote of 69-28 was relatively straightforward by modern standards. Her nomination was expected as far back as early March , but her elevation to chair came as a surprise. “If you walk back through the modern or earlier history of the FTC, I can’t remember an instance where the White House has named an individual to be a commissioner, then once that person was confirmed by the Senate, designated that person to be the chair,” William Kovacic, former FTC chair, said to Axios .

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    Five new bills aim to break up Big Tech platforms, force them to play nice / ArsTechnica · Monday, 14 June, 2021 - 16:57 · 1 minute

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)

Legislators in the US House of Representatives introduced five new bills Friday afternoon that promise the biggest overhaul of antitrust law since the trust-busting era of the early 1900s.

The bills take aim at the many platforms that Big Tech companies have rolled out over the last decade or so, including Apple’s iOS, Google’s search and ad platforms, Amazon’s marketplace, and Facebook’s social media and messaging networks. The proposed legislation would usher in sweeping changes both in the way monopoly regulations are enforced and in how companies run their platforms. They would require divestments in some cases while mandating interoperability and portability in others.

“Right now, unregulated tech monopolies have too much power over our economy,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who introduced one of the bills. “They are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices on consumers, and put folks out of work. Our agenda will level the playing field and ensure the wealthiest, most powerful tech monopolies play by the same rules as the rest of us.”

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