Back in October, the US Justice Department went after Google in a massive antitrust lawsuit filed against the company. We heard that Facebook could be looking at similar scrutiny, and now those rumors have come to fruition. Multiple lawsuits were filed against Facebook yesterday, including one from the Federal Trade Commission that seeks to remove Instagram and WhatsApp from the company's control. For its part, Facebook has called the litigation "revisionist history."
The Department of Justice is preparing to conduct a wide-ranging antitrust investigation into Google's business practices, multiple sources have said to news agencies. The scope of the sweep looks to include the company's primary search and online advertising operations. The speculation comes in the wake of a series of penalties and further awaiting trials in other parts of the world on Google's anti-competitive behavior.
The FTC has decided to look into some past acquisitions made by Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft, going back to 2010, asking them now to provide information that wasn't previously required under existing anti-trust regulations. The Commission claims it wants to deepen its understanding of these sorts of smaller acquisitions to better determine if they could be preventing competition in previously unanticipated ways, though it doesn't currently claim any of the companies involved were engaging in anti-competitive behavior.
It can take a fair bit of time for a series of major changes to a service everyone's seemingly familiar with to register with constituents. When YouTube announced its beefed-up compliance measures for the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, independent content creators rang the first alarm bells, fearing their videos would be subject to restrictions on their creative voice and revenue. Now, viewers are beginning to complain about the loss of features on their end whether they're trying to keep their kids educated and entertained or if they happen to enjoy some nostalgic puppetry themselves. So, we're taking a comprehensive yet concise look at what's been going on and what might come next.
YouTube recently faced some controversy over its autoplay function that ultimately ended up in an FTC investigation. Google's algorithmic selection had a bad habit of leading children away from safe, joyful videos and instead would occasionally point them to violent and inappropriate content. And if that wasn't attracting enough negative attention, it turns out Google also collected personal information on minors and used it for targeted advertising without parental consent, violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
The government is getting behind a new round of enforcement and prevention of the dreaded robocall — the FCC has new rules in place, the Senate has approved a bill on the matter while the House is still working on it. Nevertheless, the long arm of the law has been on the prowl targeting illicit operations and that has culminated in a multilateral crackdown led by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission called "Operation Call it Quits," which includes a whopping 94 enforcement actions from 45 government agencies.
YouTube is under fire for several controversies that left the company gasping for air. Most recently, an alarming trend keeps surfacing on the platform: The autoplay function leads kids away from the harmless, joyful content parents have started the watching session with and immerses them in objectionable, violent, and inappropriate videos instead. Now, YouTube is looking into far-reaching changes for kids' content, moving it away from the main platform to live solely on YouTube Kids.
Our online lives are increasingly dominated by a small number of large technology firms, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is feeling pressure to put those companies under the microscope. Screw-ups like Google's Nest Secure microphone and Facebook's... well, everything... have only added to the urgency. The agency has announced the formation of a task force that will examine how the likes of Google and Facebook do business, including scrutinizing mergers.
Last year, the FTC filed suit against Qualcomm for its patent licensing, alleging that the company wasn't giving competitors fair terms for standards-essential patents owned by the company. In what will likely prove to be a benefit to companies and consumers alike, yesterday the judge in the suit granted a motion for partial summary judgment, requiring that Qualcomm license those standards-essential patents to other chipset manufacturers under reasonable terms.