After years of moving fast and breaking things, governments around the world are waking up to the dangers of uncontrolled tech platforms and starting to think of ways to rein in those platforms. Sometimes, that means data privacy measures like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or more recent measures passed in the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. On the smaller side, it takes the form of specific ad restrictions, transparency measures, or anti-tracking protocols. With such a broad problem, nearly any solution is on the table. It’s still too early to say whether those measures will be focused on Facebook, Google, or the tech industry at large. At the same time, conservative lawmakers are eager to use accusations of bias as a way to influence moderation policy, making the specter of strong regulation all the more controversial. Whatever next steps Congress and the courts decide to take, you can track the latest updates here.
“The only thing that has changed is that Microsoft will now have a non-voting observer on OpenAI’s Board, which is very different from an acquisition such as Google’s purchase of DeepMind in the UK,” said Microsoft’s president Brad Smith to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg’s sources say that the conclusion to the European Commission’s probe into iMessage should spare Apple from needing to offer other companies some level of interoperability with the service.
The investigation officially ends in February, with new Digital Markets Act rules aimed at Big Tech’s ”platform gatekeepers” coming into full effect in March, with the intent of creating a level playing field for all.
The New York Times reported that at the United Nations climate summit, Vice President Kamala Harris said a new final rule put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency will heavily curb energy companies’ methane emissions.
As the Times notes, 50 oil and gas companies pledged similar reductions, though environmental groups are skeptical. In an open letter, 320 organizations signed an open letter criticizing the “voluntary efforts” as a “distraction from the task at hand.”
[The New York Times]
This may include Adobe divesting itself from its own product design application, Adobe XD, and promising not to lock Figma into Adobe’s Creative Cloud product bundle. Adobe has until December 19th and February 5th to respectively soothe concerns raised by UK and EU regulators.
In a redux of a case against Apple and iOS, Epic aims to dismantle barriers that could spell higher fees for app makers — and, Google argues, keep Android safe and competitive.
The Washington Post reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee dispatched subpoena-armed US Marshals to CEOs Linda Yaccarino of X (formerly Twitter) and Jason Citron of Discord for December 6th testimony about online child sexual exploitation. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel was also subpoenaed but without the use of Marshals.
Lawmakers expect Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok’s Shou Zi Chew to testify voluntarily as Congress continues to try to child-proof the internet with regulation.
[The Washington Post]
That’s how The Washington Post paraphrased Doug Mullen, a lawyer for commercial airline lobby Airlines for America, when he testified against government regulation of junk fees.
The Post catches up on President Biden’s initiative to regulate hidden fees so consumers can actually understand what they’re being charged.
Industry groups aren’t enthusiastic. In a critical comment on an FTC proposal to require hotels and other businesses to disclose extra charges, one lobbying group quoted in the piece channeled The Verge in asking, “what, exactly, is a ‘fee’?”
[The Washington Post]
The EU Court of Justice confirmed that Apple has joined Meta and ByteDance in appealing its designation under the tough new rules. The European Commission labeled three of Apple’s products as “core platform services” in September.
It’s not been officially confirmed which of these Apple is contesting, but last week, Bloomberg reported that its filings would concern the App Store and iMessage.
Earlier this year, European regulators found that a London company called AOG Technics was using forged documents to sell thousands of uncertified engine parts that have been installed in older Airbus and Boeing jets.
Bloomberg reports that the US Department of Justice is now investigating the issue,
Diller complained that Google search ads costs ballooned from “$21M to almost $300M” from 2015 to 2019. But just look at these excerpts, written with the most “I said good day!” energy of anything I’ve read in the last year.
What could possibly justify such increases - it’s not as if you’re selling sugar against a world drought. The only conclusion is that Google has systematically moved every lever in its hegemony over search to disembowel our businesses.
We are not owners of horses begging for automobile manufacturers to keep us alive as technology replaces us. We are vibrant innovative enterprises that deliver value for consumers and I believe you are unfairly using your monopoly power to bleed us dry.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman wrote for Power On newsletter subscribers today that “highly controlled” iOS sideloading is coming “in the first half of next year.”
Europe requires that “gatekeepers” like Apple make such changes by March 2024. It’ll be interesting to see what “highly controlled” means. I wouldn’t be surprised if sideloading is no walk in the park.
Gurman also mentions changes are coming to Messages, but it’s important to keep in mind that Messages the app and iMessage the service are different things. The EU is currently investigating whether iMessage counts as a “core platform service” under the regulation.
A ‘contagion’ of defecting developers could have shaved billions off its Android revenue, Google feared.
Epic v. Apple has come and gone, but now it’s Google’s turn to face the Fortnite maker.
Verge senior editor Sean Hollister is reporting from the courthouse, but I sat down with David Pierce earlier this week to discuss what all this could mean for the Play Store.
The former president joined me on Decoder to discuss AI regulation, the First Amendment, and of course, what apps he has on his homescreen.
This New York Times story catches up on Bezos’ now decade-old promise of ultra-fast airborne delivery. It’s not widespread yet, but there are people who can get it. Like smart homes and robot vacuums, the reality is less compelling than the vision.
Mr. Conner also ordered the free Skippy peanut butter but forgot to put out the landing target, so the drone went away. Then he ordered it again. Meanwhile, an Amazon delivery person showed up with the first jar. So now he and his wife, Belinda, have two jars.
I’ll lay my cards on the table: I disagree with tech policy luminary Tim Wu’s support for a lot of the child safety bills being proposed in the US right now. But his Atlantic story on their failure underscores just how bad Congress has been at passing any regulation (or even empowering tech oversight agencies to function) amid a bunch of grandstanding about “Big Tech”:
It would almost be reassuring if we could blame partisanship or corporate lobbyists for the outcome. But this is a story of culture war, personal grievance, and petty beefs so indefensible as to be a disgrace to the Republic.
Ham radio faced a baud rate limit that hasn’t changed since 1980. The FCC’s proposal would instead impose a bandwidth limit of 2.8 kHz, allowing for more efficient spectrum use.
Here’s a brief explanation of the changes by American Radio Relay League general counsel David Siddall, as quoted in RadioWorld:
“This is a very simple change. In 1980, at the inception of digital technologies that could be used by radio amateurs, the FCC adopted a speed limit of 300 baud for the stated purpose of limiting the amount of spectrum occupied by any single signal,” Siddall said. “Radio amateurs, being tinkerers and experimenters, worked to develop faster and faster speeds that still fit within the standard spectrum bandwidth. Eventually their innovations to the technology significantly increased spectrum efficiency but ran up against the FCC baud rate limit.”
The US v. Google antitrust case may be frustratingly shrouded in secrecy, but occasionally we get some fun nuggets. The quote above comes from an internal email sent by Google’s Jim Kolotouros, VP of Android Platform Partnerships. “Chrome exists to serve Google search,” he writes. “If it cannot do that because it is regulated to be set by the user, the value of users using Chrome goes to almost zero (for me).”
On Thursday, the US International Trade Commission found that Apple violated a patent held by medical tech company Masimo related to measuring blood-oxygen levels.
A limited exclusion order has been placed on certain Apple Watches sporting the contested tech, but Apple still has several means to avoid imports to the US being banned — including software alterations and the decision being overruled by the Biden administration.