Protocol - Antitrust’s uphill battle

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By Kate Cox, Nat Rubio-Licht and the Source Code team
June 16, 2022


Good morning! The EU General Court yesterday overturned a 2018 ruling that Qualcomm violated antitrust law, proving that antitrust enforcement — especially involving companies that deal with hardware — will not be easy.

Also, we want to know whether you’re going to NFT NYC, and what vibe you’re expecting from the event. Scroll to the bottom for more, then respond to this email and let us know.

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​Antitrust is easier said than done

 

A European court’s reversal of a landmark $1 billion antitrust penalty against Qualcomm is casting doubt on enforcers’ ability to make antitrust action stick.

The European Commission ruled in 2018 that Qualcomm had violated EU antitrust law by paying Apple to use Qualcomm components, instead of competing products, in iPhones produced between 2011 and 2016.

The EU General Court yesterday entirely annulled the commission’s ruling, saying, among other things, that the commission had failed to consider that there were then no competing products Apple could have sourced instead.

The ruling highlights the disparities between cases mounted against edge providers and those trying to take on makers of hardware and devices.

  • The General Court last year upheld an EU ruling, which was one of several the European Commission has issued against Google since 2017 relating to the company’s search, shopping and Android services. The company has been ordered to pay more than €8 billion in aggregate fines in those cases.
  • European regulators have been busy developing ambitious new rules for platforms, saying that they hope the EU action also inspires similar change in the U.S. And it just might, although time for congressional action is rapidly running out.

But as with Qualcomm, the world of enforcement against firms dealing in hardware is another story entirely, moving both more slowly and less surely. In January, the EU General Court tossed out a 2009 ruling that had fined Intel about €1 billion. The FTC settled a similar claim with Intel in 2010, but no fines were mandated as part of that agreement. In November, Broadcom also reached a settlement with the FTC. That settlement didn’t carry a fine, either.

— Kate Cox (email | twitter)

A version of this story appeared on Protocol.com.

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​Data in a post-Roe world

 

If SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade, companies could be forced to hand over location and health data for people living in states where abortions are banned. Elizabeth Warren and a handful of other Democrats proposed the Health and Protection Act this week to block that possibility.

The law would penalize data brokers that “sell, resell, license, trade, transfer, share, or otherwise provide or make available” health and location data with few exceptions. It would give the FTC, state AGs and anyone victimized by data sales or transfers the jurisdiction to sue brokers that violate it.

A new investigation illustrates the risks in abortion-related data.The Markup and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found that Facebook’s automated Meta Pixel tool has been collecting data on people who make appointments or visit crisis pregnancy centers, whether or not the person is using Facebook.

  • This data could then be used by anti-abortion organizations for targeted ads, spreading misinformation or potentially as evidence against abortion seekers in states where abortions would be banned.

If the bill passes, it’s unclear what the consequences would be for Facebook, though a privacy researcher told Motherboard that this law would also apply to big tech companies that share data “in unsafe ways.” The Health and Protection Act is one of the most far-reaching and ambitious legislative moves — and with others proposing laws aimed at preventing the sale or transferring of this data — lawmakers are getting serious about protecting consumer data as abortion rights are put at risk.

— Nat Rubio-Licht (email | twitter)

A MESSAGE FROM VERSAPAY

Fewer than half of executives (44%) see better communication with customers as a benefit of digitizing AR. Meanwhile, 72% state that their AR department isn't customer-oriented enough, implying that executives understand the need for customer-oriented AR departments, but aren't aware that they can close that gap as part of their AR digitization project.

Learn more

People are talking

 

Kraken’s Christina Yee told employees that the company culture isn’t going to change:

  • “If someone strongly dislikes or hates working here or thinks those here are hateful or have poor character, work somewhere that doesn’t disgust you.”

Bill Gurley said companies gotta make cuts to reach profitability:

  • "Layoffs are now widespread ... the most dangerous move you can make is being a late add to this list."

Making moves

 

Tracy Chan joined SoundCloud as SVP of Creator. Chan was previously the head of music at Twitch and worked at Spotify before that.

Ella Irwin joined Twitter as VP of Product for Health and Twitter Service. Irwin last worked at Twilio as VP of Product, Consumer Trust.

Priscilla Koranteng is Indeed's new chief people officer. Koranteng is the former head of talent and chief diversity officer at Kellogg.

Pinterest joined TechNet as a member, becoming the 13th company to do so this year.

Vicky Thomas is Clockwise’s new VP of Product. Thomas has held leadership roles at Rivet, Lucid Software and Vivint Smart Home.

In other news

 

Twitter’s all-hands with Elon Musk is today. It’s the first time Musk will address employees since announcing his takeover bid. Meanwhile, Musk has filed another appeal to get out of his "Twitter Sitter" agreement.

Tesla tech was responsible for most of the crashes involving self-driving tech over the past 10 months. Almost 400 crashes involving driver-assistance tech have happened since last July, according to an NHTSA report.

Spotify is slowing hiring plans by about 25%. The staff is still growing but will adjust its plans due to macroeconomic factors, Daniel Ek said n a memo to staff.

Block is abandoning its San Francisco office, which is where the company has been headquartered for over a decade.

Tesla raised prices again. It didn't give a reason for the new hikes, but Electrek blames an increase in the cost of raw materials and logistics.

YouTube has reached 1.5 billion monthly viewers of Shorts. The company claims it’s part of “the rise of the multiformat creator."

Mapbox was hit with a complaint from the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the company's leadership threatened job loss in retaliation for union organizing.

Someone had the time to build a tombstone of Internet Explorer in Korea. It reads: "He was a good tool to download other browsers."

Your data point of the day: Truth Social saw a 185% spike in downloads compared to the week prior, according to Data.ai. The spike comes just as the Jan. 6 hearings are starting.

Are you going to NFT NYC?

 

The vibes leading up to NFT NYC next week have been somber and a little awkward, at least on Twitter. So we want to know: Are you going? If so, what are you expecting out of it: Some clarity on the state of crypto? A shoulder to cry on? One big happy party? Respond to this email and let us know.

A MESSAGE FROM VERSAPAY

A resounding 96% of respondents claimed that there is work to do in digitizing their AR departments, yet 60% agreed that their AR departments haven’t been prioritized as much as other departments for digitization. At a time when the importance of securing cash flow is higher than ever, many businesses are not putting enough focus on it.

Learn more

 

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

 

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