It’s Time To Break Up Apple

from Fast Company A recurring theme of the last two years–politically, culturally, economically–has been yelling out loud what was supposed to be merely whispered or implied; throwing caution to the wind and, essentially, telling on yourself. That’s exactly what Apple did yesterday. This Monday, the beloved tech giant announced its big plans to seek fresh revenue in areas where it’s already built a significant audience. You’ve been able to get loans to purchase Apple products–now it’s launching the credit card to end all credit cards. Before, you could read news on Apple’s News app–now the company is partnering with some […]

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Legal Scholar Tim Wu Says The US Must Enforce Antitrust Laws

from Wired LAST WEEK, PRESIDENTIAL candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) announced an ambitious plan to break up big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon and block them from selling their own products on their platforms. Warren called out Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp and Google’s acquisition of online advertising giant DoubleClick as examples of the deals she’d like to see reversed. But why were these companies allowed to grow so big—and these purchases allowed—in the first place? In his book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age, published in November, legal scholar Tim Wu explains […]

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Why R.B.G. Matters

from NYTs For the judicial icon otherwise known as R.B.G., Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s past few roller-coaster months have included being lionized by Hollywood, laid low by cancer surgery, and most recently issuing one of the Supreme Court term’s more important decisions, placing limits on civil forfeiture, within a day of returning to the bench. People who know almost nothing about the court and can’t name another justice know her name. In a celebrity-saturated age, she is one of the culture’s most unlikely rock stars. Yet for all the accolades that have come her way, I’m willing to bet that […]

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Awarding Punitive Damages Against Foreign States Is Dangerous and Counterproductive

from Lawfare The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held recently that Syria is liable for the death of American war correspondent Marie Colvin and awarded Colvin’s family $302.5 million—$2.5 million in compensatory damages and $300 million in punitive damages. Colvin was killed in Syria when President Bashar Assad’s forces bombed the Baba Amr Media Center in Homs while she was in the facility. Judge Amy Berman Jackson found that the bombardment amounted to Syria’s engaging in extrajudicial killing and, therefore, the Syrian regime could and should be liable under the terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities […]

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The Alarming Scope of the President’s Emergency Powers

from The Atlantic In the weeks leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, President Donald Trump reached deep into his arsenal to try to deliver votes to Republicans. Most of his weapons were rhetorical, featuring a mix of lies and false inducements—claims that every congressional Democrat had signed on to an “open borders” bill (none had), that liberals were fomenting violent “mobs” (they weren’t), that a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class would somehow pass while Congress was out of session (it didn’t). But a few involved the aggressive use—and threatened misuse—of presidential authority: He sent thousands of […]

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Germany Has Ordered Facebook To Rein In Its Data Collection

From recode German regulators are trying to clamp down on Facebook’s data collection practices — a move that could force Facebook to make technical changes to its app in order to continue operating in the country. The Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office in charge of antitrust laws, restricted Facebook from “[merging] user data from various sources,” the office announced Thursday. Essentially, it wants to block Facebook from combining user data that it collects through its other apps, like WhatsApp and Instagram, with data on Facebook. This would also restrict Facebook from collecting and combining any “data collected on third-party websites,” such […]

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How to Stop Facebook’s Dangerous App Integration Ploy

From NYTs In response to calls that Facebook be forced to divest itself of WhatsApp and Instagram, Mark Zuckerberg has instead made a strategic power grab: He intends to put Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger onto a unified technical infrastructure. The integrated apps are to be encrypted to protect users from hackers. But who’s going to protect users from Facebook? Ideally, that would be the Federal Trade Commission, the agency charged with enforcing the antitrust laws and protecting consumers from unfair business practices. But the F.T.C. has looked the other way for far too long, failing to enforce its own 2011 consent decree under which Facebook was […]

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This Is What Happens When You Try to Sue Your Boss

from Bloomberg The proof that the fight between Alex Beigelman and UBS had descended into absurdity was the dispute over the granola bar. It was the fifth day of arbitration hearings, and a lawyer for UBS, the financial conglomerate where Beigelman had worked, seemed to be having some windpipe trouble. “I tried to eat a Kind bar really quickly,” the bank lawyer said. “And I have all of that granola crunchy stuff stuck in my throat.” “TMI,” answered Linda Friedman, the civil rights attorney who was representing Beigelman. “I’m sorry, Linda, if you think that’s too much information,” the bank […]

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Majority Appears Ready To Uphold “Separate Sovereigns” Doctrine

from SCOTUSblog When Terance Gamble was pulled over by police in Alabama three years ago for having a faulty headlight, he probably didn’t think that prosecutors would make a federal case out of it. And he certainly wouldn’t have imagined that his case would make national headlines – not so much for its own sake, but because of what a win for Gamble might mean for prosecutions arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. Both of these things did happen, but after nearly 80 minutes of oral argument this morning, Gamble seemed […]

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Internet Freedom Continues To Decline Around The World, A New Report Says

from The Verge Digital authoritarianism is on the rise, according to a new report from a group that monitors internet freedoms. Freedom House, a pro-democracy think tank, said today that governments are seeking more control over users’ data while also using laws nominally intended to address “fake news” to suppress dissent. It marked the eighth consecutive year that Freedom House found a decline in online freedoms around the world. “The clear emergent theme in this report is the growing recognition that the internet, once seen as a liberating technology, is increasingly being used to disrupt democracies as opposed to destabilizing […]

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Justices Add Three New Cases To This Term’s Docket

from SCOTUSblog This afternoon the justices announced that they had granted review in three new cases, involving issues ranging from patent and bankruptcy law to the federal law governing sex offenders. The justices did not act on several high-profile petitions for review, including a dispute over a cross on public land in the Washington, D.C., suburbs and a challenge to mandatory bar dues for lawyers. More orders from the justices’ private conference today are expected on Monday morning at 9:30 a.m., although the justices are unlikely to add any new cases to their docket with those orders. More here.

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EU Warns Facebook It Faces Sanctions Over ‘Misleading’ T&Cs

from The Guardian Brussels has warned Facebook it will face sanctions unless it changes what the European commission calls its “misleading” terms and conditions. The EU commissioner in charge of consumer protection, Vera Jourová, said she had run out of patience with the social network after nearly two years of discussions aimed at giving Facebook’s European users more information about how their data is used. “I will not hide the fact that I am becoming rather impatient because we have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years,” Jourová told reporters. “Progress is not enough for me, I want to […]

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Calif. Senate Approves Net Neutrality Rules, Sends Bill To Governor

from ars technica The California Senate today voted to approve the toughest state-level net neutrality bill in the US, one day after the California Assembly took the same action. With both legislative houses having approved the bill, California Governor Jerry Brown has until September 30 to sign it into law. The final vote was 27-12, with all 26 Democratic senators and Republican Senator Ling Ling Chang voting in favor. All 12 no votes came from Republican senators. In the Assembly yesterday, six Republicans joined 55 Democrats to pass the bill in a 61-18 vote. More here.

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‘Corporations Are People’ Is Built on an Incredible 19th-Century Lie

from The Atlantic Somewhat unintuitively, American corporations today enjoy many of the same rights as American citizens. Both, for instance, are entitled to the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. How exactly did corporations come to be understood as “people” bestowed with the most fundamental constitutional rights? The answer can be found in a bizarre—even farcical—series of lawsuits over 130 years ago involving a lawyer who lied to the Supreme Court, an ethically challenged justice, and one of the most powerful corporations of the day. That corporation was the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, owned by the robber baron […]

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How Slack Got Ahead in Diversity

from The Atlantic Last week, Slack, the company whose popular, plaid-themed messaging app has simplified office communications and introduced custom fox emoji into our daily routines, quietly released its 2017 diversity report. Diversity reports, which list statistics like the percentage of women in management and underrepresented minorities in technical jobs, have become something of an annual rite of passage among Silicon Valley tech companies. As public concern about gender and racial inequities in tech has grown, companies have begun, over the past several years, to share numbers. Slack has been outperforming other Silicon Valley companies, and its current numbers show […]

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Minds Is The Anti-Facebook That Pays You For Your Time

from Wired During Mark Zuckerberg’s over 10 hours of Congressional testimony last week, lawmakers repeatedly asked how Facebook makes money. The simple answer, which Zuckerberg dodged, is the contributions and online activities of its over two billion users, which allow marketers to target ads with razor precision. In which case, asked representative Paul Tonko (D – New York), “why doesn’t Facebook pay its users for their incredibly valuable data?” It’s a good question, one that alternative social networks like Minds have attempted to answer. The idea isn’t entirely new—Minds launched in 2015—but the site and others like it feel especially […]

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‘Big Brother’ in India Requires Fingerprint Scans for Food, Phones and Finances

from NYTs Seeking to build an identification system of unprecedented scope, India is scanning the fingerprints, eyes and faces of its 1.3 billion residents and connecting the data to everything from welfare benefits to mobile phones. Civil libertarians are horrified, viewing the program, called Aadhaar, as Orwell’s Big Brother brought to life. To the government, it’s more like “big brother,” a term of endearment used by many Indians to address a stranger when asking for help. For other countries, the technology could provide a model for how to track their residents. And for India’s top court, the ID system presents […]

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Two Founders Of Cryptocurrency Offering Arrested, Charged With Fraud

from ars technica The creators of an initial coin offering (ICO) once endorsed by Floyd Mayweather and DJ Khaled have been arrested and indicted on separate federal securities fraud charges brought by federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Earlier this year, the SEC shut down another ICO, known as AriseBank. In 2017, according to the SEC, Sohrab “Sam” Sharma and Robert Farkas, who founded Centra Tech, managed to raise $32 million from thousands of people for their “CTR Token,” an Ether-based coin. The organizers had claimed in 2017 that they had a Visa and MasterCard debit card service […]

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When You Merge The Message With The Medium, You Make A Messium

from Wired THE NIXON ADMINISTRATION saw it coming. In a stunning January 1974 report, the Nixon White House Cable Committee foretold that the new telecom platform known as cable would, eventually, be a monopoly service wherever it was offered. The committee, whose membership included Mitt Romney’s dad, George, and which was staffed by a young Antonin Scalia, called for a “separation policy.” Its chief recommendation: Control of the cable medium should be separated from control of the messages on it. A federal mandate along these lines was urgently needed, the committee said: “If the achievement of a new relationship between […]

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Mark Zuckerberg Has Been Talking About Privacy For 15 Years — Here’s A Rundown

from Yahoo News Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke out on Wednesday after days of silence amid a firestorm of privacy concerns and government probes following reports of massive data mishandling. Research firm Cambridge Analytica is accused of improperly gaining access to the personal data of 50 million Facebook users, and the social media network is dealing with the fallout. This is not a new issue. Zuckerberg has been thinking and talking about privacy ever since he built the predecessor to Facebook, called Facemash, at Harvard back in 2003. When users of the service complained that their pictures were being used […]

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