EU Launching Deep Probe Into Google’s Planned $2.1 Billion Fitbit Buy

from ars technica Regulators in the European Union are launching a deep investigation into Google’s proposed acquisition of wearables maker Fitbit after expressing concerns that giving Google access to Fitbit’s user data could “distort competition.” The Commission’s in-depth investigation will examine not only the potential outcomes for the advertising market if the transaction goes through, but it will also look at the effects of the deal on the digital healthcare sector and the potential for Google to lock competitors out of access to Android users. More here.

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Google Antitrust Investigation Outlined by State Attorneys General

from NYTs The state attorneys general from four dozen states officially declared on Monday that they were beginning investigations into the market power and corporate behavior of big tech companies. The formal declaration, delivered from the steps of the United States Supreme Court by a bipartisan group of state officials, adds investigative muscle and political momentum to the intensifying scrutiny of the tech giants by federal watchdog agencies and Congress. The states are focusing on two targets: Facebook and Google. More here.

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Farm Bankruptcies Shed New Light On Perils Of Big Agriculture

from Axios Chris Petersen, a third-generation hog farmer who says “I bleed rural” and tears up at the fate of family and friends, has found a way to keep his small holding going, and avoid the exodus that so many are making. His grown son and daughter have, too. But meanwhile, Petersen is at war with the big companies that he says are destroying the culture of smaller places like Clear Lake. “We are going down the same road as the Russians with the collective farm system,” he told me yesterday. “There, the government controlled it. Here, it’s the corporations.” […]

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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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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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Dear Mr Zuckerberg: The Problem Isn’t The Internet, It’s Facebook

From The Guardian Dear Mr Zuckerberg: I read with great interest your post Monday on Facebook celebrating 15 years of helping people connect with others through a series of frames on a blue background. Let me add my name to the list of those who are impressed with what you have built. Driven by a set of ideals and some clever code, you steadily built a money machine that has also accumulated remarkable influence around the world. I urge people to consider these numbers when pondering the power of Facebook: 2.3 billion users writing in more than 100 languages; almost $17bn in revenue in just the fourth […]

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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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How Amazon’s Bottomless Appetite Became Corporate America’s Nightmare

from Bloomberg Amazon makes no sense. It’s the most befuddling, illogically sprawling, and—to a growing sea of competitors—flat-out terrifying company in the world. It sells soap and produces televised soap operas. It sells complex computing horsepower to the U.S. government and will dispatch a courier to deliver cold medicine on Christmas Eve. It’s the third-most-valuable company on Earth, with smaller annual profits than Southwest Airlines Co., which as of this writing ranks 426th. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest person, his fortune built on labor conditions that critics say resemble a Dickens novel with robots, yet he […]

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Hearing Amazon’s Footsteps, the Health Care Industry Shudders

from NYTs With little more than a whiff of Amazon’s interest in a new business, the company can crater the stocks of potential competitors, prompting them to consider bold acquisitions and other drastic measures in response. Just ask companies in the home improvement, meal-kit and grocery businesses. The latest category alarmed by the specter of competition from Amazon is the pharmacy market. With huge amounts of consumer spending and frustrating inefficiencies, it is the type of business that invariably attracts Amazon’s attention. CVS Health is now in talks to acquire Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurance providers, a […]

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Huntsman and Clariant Halt Chemicals Merger, Citing Investor Revolt

from NYTs Two of the world’s leading chemical manufacturers, the Huntsman Corporation and Clariant of Switzerland, terminated a planned multibillion-dollar merger on Friday, bowing to pressure from activist investors who opposed the deal. The deal’s demise was the latest success for activist shareholders, who have put some of the world’s largest companies in their sights and are exerting greater influence over corporate strategy. The proposed all-stock transaction, called a “merger of equals” by Clariant and Huntsman in May, would have been the latest consolidation in the chemicals industry and created a business with a combined market value of about $15 […]

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The Walls Are Closing In On Tech Giants

from Axios Tech behemoths Google, Facebook and Amazon are feeling the heat from the far-left and the far-right, and even the center is starting to fold. Why it matters: Criticism over the companies’ size, culture and overall influence in society is getting louder as they infiltrate every part of our lives. Though it’s mostly rhetoric rather than action at the moment, that could change quickly in the current political environment. Here’s a breakdown of the three biggest fights they’re facing. More here.

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Antitrust Regulators Approve Tesla Deal To Buy Solarcity

from ars technica On Thursday, federal antitrust regulators from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved electric vehicle maker Tesla’s bid to buy solar panel company SolarCity for $2.6 billion in an all-stock deal. The deal was expected to be approved, and Reuters reported that regulators fast-tracked the merger, along with a number of other, lower-profile mergers in which the two companies seeking to merge did little overlapping business. Tesla announced the merger in June, and on August 1 it proposed terms for the takeover of the solar panel company—owners of SolarCity shares will get 0.11 shares of Tesla stock for every share of SolarCity […]

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Antitrust Scrutiny for 3 Big U.S. Theater Chains

from NYTs A simmering federal investigation into whether the big movie theater chains are misusing their market clout to keep new films away from independent competitors gained steam on Tuesday. Cinemark Holdings, the nation’s third-largest movie theater operator, disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had received a civil investigative demand for information from the antitrust division of the Justice Department. Cinemark’s two bigger competitors, Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment, on Monday alerted shareholders to similar requests. Together, the three chains control about 42 percent of the nation’s movie screens. For months, the government has been looking into […]

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United States: Federal Trade Commission Issues First-Ever Guidance On “Unfair Methods Of Competition”

from bizlitnewsblog Section 5 of the 1914 Federal Trade Commission Act declares that “unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce” are unlawful. The Act also empowers the Commission to prevent persons, partnerships, and corporations from using “unfair” methods of competition. But the FTC, notes the Wall Street Journal, “has never formally defined what it means to compete unfairly.” Well, had never. On August 13, 2015, the FTC released a statement – its first ever— of three “principles” to which it “adheres” “[i]n deciding whether to challenge an act or practice as an unfair method of competition in violation of Section 5 on […]

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Suit Accuses Duke, UNC Of Antitrust Violation

from dailytarheel.com While UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University might be in fierce competition, medical school administrators have declared a truce — but one faculty member has called foul. Dr. Danielle Seaman, assistant professor at Duke School of Medicine, filed a class-action lawsuit this summer against Duke, Duke University Health System and Dr. William Roper, dean of UNC School of Medicine, for violating antitrust laws. UNC, UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health are included in the complaint as “unnamed co-conspirators,” meaning they are not yet named as defendants in the case. But because of the legal placeholder, additional defendants could […]

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Justices Find Antitrust Law Valid Against Dental Board

from NYTs The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a state dental board controlled by dentists may be sued under antitrust laws for driving teeth-whitening services out of business. The decision, by a 6-to-3 vote, set standards that will most likely also apply to state licensing boards, including those for doctors, lawyers and other professionals. States often rely on such boards to decide which potential competitors may ply their trades. The case, North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, No. 13-534, concerned a dental board with eight members, six of whom were required by state law to be practicing dentists and […]

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How Europe Could Cut Google Down To Size Without Splitting It Up

from Gigaom With a new competition commissioner re-examining the long-running Google antitrust case, it’s worth revisiting what she needs to achieve, particularly as the European Parliament has now called for EU antitrust law’s nuclear option – the unprecedented splitting-up of the company – to be on the table. The resolution that the Parliament passed on Thursday refers to the possibility of separating Google’s search business from its other interests. It is, more than anything, a reflection of how politicized and overstuffed the Google case has become. It forms part of a wider broadside against Google’s dominance in Europe – an offensive that is coalescing […]

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