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Tech Groups Call On US DoJ To Investigate YouTube Monopoly

Silicon | Jun 12, 2024

  • Open letter urges US Department of Justice to investigate Alphabet’s YouTube for alleged domination of home entertainment sector
  • A group of tech groups have written an open letter to the DoJ, calling on them to investigate YouTube, saying the video-streaming platform could enable Google and its parent company, Alphabet, to dominate home entertainment.

Microsoft violates children’s privacy – but blames your local school

NOYB | Jun 04, 2024

  • In the wake of the pandemic, schools in the European Union have increasingly begun to implement digital services for online learning. While these modernisation efforts are a welcome development, a small number of big tech companies immediately tried to dominate the space – often with the intention of getting children used to their systems and creating a new generation of future “loyal” customers.
  • One of them is Microsoft, whose 365 Education services violate children’s data protection rights. When pupils wanted to exercise their GDPR rights, Microsoft said schools were the “controller” for their data. However, the schools have no control over the systems.

FTC-industry talks over possible Microsoft probe raised recent hacking incidents

NextGov | Jun 04, 2024

  • Chinese and Russian cyber infiltrations into agencies’ Microsoft email systems came up in discussions over a possible antitrust investigation into the company, people familiar say.
  • The Federal Trade Commission held meetings with tech industry executives to gather information for a possible antitrust probe of Microsoft’s licensing and bundling practices, fueled in part by major hacks linked to the company that occurred last year and in early 2024, according to three people familiar with the matter.

OpenAI Insiders Warn of a ‘Reckless’ Race for Dominance

The New York Times | Jun 04, 2024

  • A group of current and former employees is calling for sweeping changes to the artificial intelligence industry, including greater transparency and protections for whistle-blowers.

Congress asked to probe tech companies hiding antitrust evidence

Roll Call | Jun 04, 2024

  • A half-dozen nonprofit groups opposed to concentrated corporate power are seeking a congressional investigation into tech company employees encrypting or deleting internal messages to destroy evidence in antitrust cases.
  • “We are disturbed by recent reports that the tech giants have yet again been caught systematically deleting internal messages and chats tied to active federal investigations, thus concealing them from regulators and the courts,” the groups wrote in a letter to the top lawmakers on the Senate and House Judiciary committees dated Monday. They cite findings from a judge and accusations by the Federal Trade Commission that these practices are taking place.

The Opaque Investment Empire Making OpenAI’s Sam Altman Rich

The Wall Street Journal | Jun 03, 2024

  • Many companies backed by CEO do business with the ChatGPT maker and benefit from the AI boom driven by the blockbuster startup, raising questions of conflicts

Windows AI feature that screenshots everything labeled a security ‘disaster’

The Verge | Jun 03, 2024

  • A security researcher is concerned about Windows 11’s new Recall feature after testing it.

Microsoft to pay off cloud industry group to end EU antitrust complaint

POLITICO | Jun 01, 2024

  • Microsoft is closing in on a multimillion-euro deal with Amazon-backed cloud lobby CISPE to get it to drop an antitrust complaint, according to two industry officials with knowledge of the proposal.
  • This would see the group of cloud providers withdraw a request for the European Commission to investigate Microsoft's cloud-licensing agreements, shutting down a potential antitrust standoff.

Former OpenAI board member explains why they fired Sam Altman

The Verge | May 28, 2024

  • Helen Toner explains last year’s OpenAI coup as the result of ‘outright lying’ that made it impossible to trust the CEO.
  • Toner says that one reason the board stopped trusting Altman was his failure to tell the board that he owned the OpenAI Startup Fund; another was how he gave inaccurate info about the company’s safety processes “on multiple occasions.”

AI firms mustn’t govern themselves, say ex-members of OpenAI’s board

The Economist | May 26, 2024

  • For humanity’s sake, regulation is needed to tame market forces, argue Helen Toner and Tasha McCauley
  • Goods, infrastructure and society are improved by regulation. It’s because of regulation that cars have seat belts and airbags, that we don’t worry about contaminated milk and that buildings are constructed to be accessible to all. Judicious regulation could ensure the benefits of ai are realised responsibly and more broadly. A good place to start would be policies that give governments more visibility into how the cutting edge of ai is progressing, such as transparency requirements and incident-tracking.

Sam Altman's tech villain arc is underway

Business Insider | May 25, 2024

  • Altman was lauded as the leader behind ChatGPT when it launched in 2022. But recent exits from OpenAI's safety team and a dispute with Scarlett Johansson have brought scrutiny.
  • If tech's fallen star history repeats itself, things are not looking good for Altman. His dream of a utopia seems more like a dystopia to some, and his image as a Silicon Valley do-gooder is unraveling.

Exclusive: Microsoft’s UAE deal could transfer key U.S. chips and AI technology abroad

Reuters | May 24, 2024

  • Microsoft opens new tab President Brad Smith said the tech company's high profile deal with the United Arab Emirates-backed AI firm G42 could eventually involve the transfer of sophisticated chips and tools - a move that a senior Republican congressman warned could have national security implications.
  • U.S. officials have said that AI systems could pose national security risks, for example by making it easier to engineer chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The Biden administration in October required the makers of the largest AI systems to share details about them with the U.S. government.

Microsoft Wanted to be Carbon Negative. Then It Went Big on AI

Bloomberg | May 23, 2024

  • If Microsoft is shooting for the moon on decarbonization, the moon is “more than five times as far away as it was in 2020,” President Brad Smith says on Zero.

Big Tech goes on AI charm offensive in Europe as regulators circle

CNBC | May 23, 2024

  • Major U.S. tech firms have been trying to win favor with regulators as they face criticisms over their massive businesses having an adverse effect on smaller companies in areas ranging from advertising to retail to media production.

Privacy experts sound the alarm over Microsoft’s latest AI tool

CNN | May 22, 2024

  • The UK’s independent regulator for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), told CNN it is investigating the tool “to understand the safeguards in place to protect user privacy.”
  • “We expect organisations to be transparent with users about how their data is being used and only process personal data to the extent that it is necessary to achieve a specific purpose,” the ICO said in a statement.

A Microsoft under attack from government and tech rivals after ‘preventable’ hack ties executive pay to cyberthreats

CNBC | May 22, 2024

  • Both the U.S. government and rival tech companies including Google and CrowdStrike recently called out Microsoft for failing to prevent a Chinese hack of its systems.

Sam Altman’s Scarlett Johansson Blunder Just Made AI a Harder Sell in DC

POLITICO Magazine | May 22, 2024

  • The latest scandal over seemingly appropriating a movie star’s voice will only inflame tensions between Washington and Silicon Valley.

OpenAI is nurturing a creepy fantasy with its new AI chatbot, GPT-4o

MSNBC | May 15, 2024

  • OpenAI’s unveiling of GPT-4o has also generated buzz — and raised eyebrows — because the company has marketed it as a flirty, female companion.
  • It’s all a little creepy, and it raises questions about whether the development of this kind of technology will prey on human vulnerabilities and reinforce some of our worst instincts as a society.

Microsoft’s AI obsession is jeopardizing its climate ambitions

The Verge | May 15, 2024

  • fter pledging to slash its greenhouse gas emissions, Microsoft’s climate pollution has grown by 30 percent as the company prioritizes AI.

The education of Lina Khan, whose superpower is busting monopolies

The Washington Post | May 14, 2024

  • While most FTC chairs channel their energy into legal filings and remarks at antitrust conferences, Khan believes her success depends on connecting antitrust law to the daily lives of Americans. That’s why she joined Hollywood writers on the picket line, why she books appearances on “The Daily Show” and at South by Southwest, and visits law schools to proselytize about antitrust.
  • It’s why she relishes the coming battle over recently announced regulations to outlaw “junk fees” routinely added to ticket prices and airfares, and “noncompete clauses” that prevent Jimmy John’s workers, for example, from taking a higher-paying job at another sandwich shop nearby. And it’s why Khan holds “listening sessions” outside Washington at which ordinary citizens can voice concerns about high-profile mergers.

Big Tech Companies Were Investors in Smaller AI Labs. Now They’re Rivals

TIME | May 13, 2024

  • Microsoft has invested at least $13 billion in OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. As part of this agreement, OpenAI gives Microsoft exclusive access to the AI systems it develops, while Microsoft provides OpenAI with the computational power it needs.
  • Earlier this month, The Information reported that Microsoft is training a foundation model large enough to compete with frontier model developers such as OpenAI.

Microsoft set to face EU competition charges over Teams software

Financial Times | May 13, 2024

  • Tech group’s effort to avoid action by unbundling videoconferencing app from its other software appears to have failed

In DC, a new wave of AI lobbyists gains the upper hand

POLITICO | May 12, 2024

  • An alliance of tech giants, startups and venture capitalists are spending millions to convince Washington that fears of an AI apocalypse are overblown. So far, it’s working.

Microsoft Shutters Several Bethesda Developers Post Acquisition, Same As It Did In Activision Acquisition

TechDirt | May 10, 2024

  • Back in February, the FTC wanted to dive back into its battle with Microsoft over its acquisition of Activision Blizzard due to Microsoft announcing thousands of jobs worth of layoffs, including many developers from Activision Blizzard.
  • Post acquisition, Microsoft went right ahead and announced plans to lay off nearly 2,000 people, rather than doing any divesting. A complete one-eighty from what it told the courts, in other words.

Microsoft's Brad Smith summoned by Homeland Security committee over 'cascade' of infosec failures

The Register | May 10, 2024

  • Major intrusions by both China and Russia leave a lot to be answered for
  • The PR nightmare Microsoft faced at the time was once again reignited more recently by the Cyber Safety Review Board's (CSRB) investigation into how the attack was able to unfold.

Microsoft's and Amazon's AI partnerships draw UK watchdog scrutiny

Reuters | Apr 24, 2024

  • On Wednesday, amid concerns these deals fall under the UK's merger rules or raise competition concerns, the partnerships between Microsoft and Mistral AI, as well as Amazon and Anthropic, gained the attention of scrutiny of Britain's competition watchdog.

Survey shows widespread fears about AI-fueled misinformation

Tech Brew | Apr 23, 2024

  • According to a survey conducted by Adobe, misinformation and fears that generative AI deepfakes are only fueling the problem have consumers losing their trust in social media and other online platforms.

Hackers competed to find AI harms. Here’s what they found.

The Washington Post | Apr 04, 2024

  • On Wednesday, a report showed that getting AI chatbots to violate their guidelines can be difficult. However, getting them to spit out inaccuracies is easier than you think. The report includes data gathered from a competition between hackers to find the harms AI technology presents.

Scathing federal report rips Microsoft for shoddy security, insincerity in response to Chinese hack

The Associated Press | Apr 03, 2024

  • On Tuesday, a report issued by a Biden administration-appointed review board cited "a cascade of errors" by Microsoft that let state-backed Chinese cyber operators break into email accounts of senior U.S. officials, including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. It was a scathing indictment of the tech giant's corporate security and transparency.

Apple faces its biggest antitrust challenge

The Hill | Apr 03, 2024

  • Apple's alleged control of the smartphone market using a "playbook" has drawn the DOJ's attention and added another antitrust challenge to the tech giant's running record. The claims are wide-ranging, focusing on Apple's monopolizing behavior in its efforts surrounding its services and products to maintain its dominance across multiple technologies commonly associated with the Apple brand.

The case for treating tech companies like railroads

POLITICO | Apr 03, 2024

  • A casebook published in 2022 argued that the now essential nature of the services provided through social media platforms requires specific regulation. America has seen it before, and the legal precedents exist to support the government's role in transitioning an industry from one social role to another—from product to utility.

Microsoft could have stopped Chinese cloud email hack: Review panel

The Hill | Apr 03, 2024

  • In July, Chinese hackers accessed Microsoft email accounts linked to U.S. government officials. This Tuesday, a scathing report released by the Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB) found that Microsoft could have stopped the hackers if it hadn't been for "operational and strategic decisions" made by the company.

Jon Stewart claims Apple wouldn't let him interview FTC chair on his podcast

Axios | Apr 02, 2024

  • Just days after the DOJ sued Apple for abusing its monopoly position in the smartphone market and its potential harm to speech, during an interview with the FTC Chair Lina Kahn on the Monday episode of "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart claimed that Apple wouldn't let him interview her for his podcast.

Regulators Force Another Microsoft Split

The New York Times | Apr 02, 2024

  • Facing increasing scrutiny in the U.S. and the E.U., Microsoft is splitting Teams from its Office software suite, expanding a split that began in the European Union last fall. It’s unclear if Microsoft’s decision will help it avoid an E.U. fine.

Organized labor takes on the AI future

AI is inserting itself into the American workplace, and labor unions have turned out to be political counterweights as worries are rising among American workers over concerns about what will happen to human workers. | Apr 01, 2024

  • This past weekend, Liz Shuler, the president of the AFL-CIO, commented that there is an opportunity for a movement that isn't always available in the high-tech world: an opportunity for labor to help shape America's technological future and return organized labor to a place it hasn't seen in decades.

White House releases first government-wide policy to mitigate AI risks

The Hill | Mar 28, 2024

  • Building on the AI executive order issued in October, the White House released its first government-wide policy to mitigate the risks of artificial intelligence. Among the requirements for federal agencies is the designation of a chief AI officer to coordinate AI usage across their agencies, maintaining a record of every AI use to be reported annually, and implementing concrete safeguards surrounding the use of AI to protect the rights and safety of Americans.

TikTok's Chinese Cousin Bans AI Content

Newsweek | Mar 28, 2024

  • Chinese technology giants' seek to stay ahead of the transforming landscape of AI as U.S. companies, such as OpenAI, started setting regulatory norms. Douyin, the Chinese cousin of TikTok, both owned by Bytedance, has announced its new policy banning AI-generated content used to spread misinformation and rumors.

Inside the shadowy global battle to tame the world's most dangerous technology

POLITICO | Mar 26, 2024

  • Can anyone control AI? China may be able to set and entrench the international playbook on AI regulation as Big Tech ramps up its anti-regulation lobbying and as the US, EU, and UK continue to butt heads in a political battle taking place within the debates to settle on an AI regulation plan that Western democracies can agree on.

Senators say Meta’s Zuckerberg is slow-walking child safety inquiries

The Washington Post | Mar 26, 2024

  • After multiple extensions, senators are accusing Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg of a lack of commitment to protecting children online, saying he and his company have failed to properly respond to follow-up questions from a January Senate Judiciary Committee hearing during which the CEOs of several digital platforms testified on the issue of inadequately addressing the spread of child abuse material online.

EU investigates Meta, Alphabet and Apple for violating competition rules

Axios | Mar 25, 2024

  • On Monday, after only two weeks of enforcement of the Digital Markets Act, the E.U. announced five investigations into Apple, Meta, and Alphabet. The investigations cover the issues surrounding whether Apple and Google are making it difficult for app developers to direct consumers outside of their app stores, suspecting Google's search engine is preferring Google's services over competitors, and whether Meta is breaching E.U. privacy laws with its "pay or consent model."

Apple sued by Biden administration over alleged iPhone 'monopoly power'

NBC News | Mar 21, 2024

  • On Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and 16 states and district attorneys general launched a lawsuit against tech giant Apple. With a market capitalization larger than the GDP of more than 100 countries, Apple is facing accusations of monopolizing the smartphone market to the detriment of consumers.
  • Allegations against Apple include the prevention of the successful deployment of apps that would make it easier for consumers to switch between smartphone platforms, blocking the development of cloud-streaming apps, and inhibiting the development of cross-platform messaging apps to ensure that consumers must continue to buy iPhones.

EU AI Regulation Ripples Through Tech Value Chains, US Business

Bloomberg | Mar 21, 2024

  • The EU's AI regulation, approved on March 13, has implications for US businesses operating in the region. It impacts the value chains of key actors' companies across all sectors that develop or distribute AI in the EU and those using AI systems that produce outputs affecting EU residents.

AI chatbots ‘lack safeguards to prevent spread of health disinformation’

Yahoo!News | Mar 20, 2024

  • Research by a team of experts from around the world found that large language models used to power AI chatbots, like ChatGPT and Google's Gemini, lack the proper safeguards to prevent the creation of health disinformation.

Google AI on the iPhone could draw regulators

Axios | Mar 19, 2024

  • Seen by some as Apple's best chance to re-establish competition in the search market, the company has been in talks with Google to have Gemini, Google's generative AI program, built into the iPhone. This report follows the scrutiny Google has been under for paying Apple to be its default search provider.

E.U. antitrust chief previews a new era of Big Tech oversight

The Washington Post | Mar 19, 2024

  • Big Tech's heightened scrutiny after the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA) took full effect this month has been met by the European Commission's top official, who oversees competition policy, comments that continuous implementation is the next policy priority for the European Commission.

Europe investigates Big Tech’s use of generative AI

CNN | Mar 14, 2024

  • On Thursday, the EU launched an investigation into Big Tech's use of AI. Companies, including Meta, Microsoft, Snap, TikTok, and X, have until April 5 to respond to questions regarding their steps to prevent generative AI tools from spreading election misinformation.
  • The Big Tech companies being investigated have been given until April 26 to file responses to additional topics covered in the probe, including how the platforms currently address generative AI's impact on user privacy, intellectual property, civil rights, and children's safety and mental health.

European Lawmakers Pass AI Act, World’s First Comprehensive AI Law

The Wall Street Journal | Mar 13, 2024

  • On Wednesday, the EU gave final approval to the first comprehensive set of rules for artificial intelligence, including new restrictions on its uses. The regulations put in place by the law, set to take effect gradually over several years, are likely to have a wide-reaching impact, from the business practices of large AI companies to its possible use as a model for future AI regulations.

Opinion | How States Can Keep Big Tech from Dominating AI

POLITICO | Mar 13, 2024

  • Congress's lack of new regulatory legislation leaves a handful of big tech companies poised to dominate the AI industry. Legislative proposals put forward in California and New York can help prevent the monopolization of the AI sector.
  • Proposals in the California and New York state legislatures focus on regulating cloud services and foundation models. Both proposals include the creation of public cloud computing options. The California proposal includes other regulatory measures to ensure entrepreneurs can compete fairly in the market by requiring cloud services and foundation models to provide equal access to users and charge non-discriminatory prices.

US Senator Urges Microsoft to Pull Bing Out of China

Bloomberg | Mar 13, 2024

  • In response to a call from US Sen. Mark Warner to consider pulling its Bing search engine out of China, Microsoft has stated it would rather not. This response follows an investigation that revealed the company's search engine was shutting out information on human rights and democracy to cater to the CCP, China's ruling political party.

Western countries are more pessimistic about AI

Axios | Mar 12, 2024

  • America is among the least positive countries about AI's workplace uses. New data from 17 countries and surveys of at least 1000 people from each country show Western workers are embracing generative AI tools far less than workers in Asia.
  • Experts say that the earlier companies and individuals experiment with generative AI, the quicker they will find ways to improve productivity and creativity. With Western workers twice as likely to be uncertain whether AI helps productivity, business leaders fear that pessimism about AI in the West could make the U.S. and allied countries less competitive.

US judge to hear FTC challenge to Kroger-Albertsons deal in August

Reuters | Mar 11, 2024

  • On Monday, March 11, 2024, Judge Adrienne Nelson of the U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon, set a start date of August 26, 2024, for the hearing on the FTC's bid for a preliminary injunction to block a $24.6 billion merger of the supermarket chains Kroger and Albertson's. Both sides must file a proposed briefing schedule by Friday.

Activision Workers Unionize With CWA After Neutrality Deal

Law360 | Mar 11, 2024

  • In an announcement made on Friday, March 8, 2024, following a vote count of 390 to 8, the Communications Workers of America said Activision Central Quality Assurance workers unionized with the backdrop of the the parties' agreement that the tech giant remain neutral during organizing campaigns.

The Chinese government is using TikTok to meddle in elections, ODNI says

POLITICO | Mar 11, 2024

  • The annual assessment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), released on Monday, warns that the Chinese government is using TikTok to meddle in elections and undermine U.S. democracy through online influence and disinformation campaigns that could include the use of generative tools.
  • Other social media companies, including Meta, have also reported that foreign adversaries, like China, are using their platforms for influence campaigns.

Microsoft warns Russia has escalated its hacking campaign

The Washington Post | Mar 08, 2024

  • On Friday, March 8, 2024, Microsoft reported that the hackers, associated with Russia's SVR foreign intelligence service, blamed for hacking the company's executives' email last month, are looking for new areas to compromise. Microsoft has also reported that the hackers are leveraging what they stole and attempting to break into customers' computer systems.

Big Tech howled over E.U. antitrust law. The White House declined a rescue.

The Washington Post | Mar 07, 2024

  • The E.U.'s Digital Markets Act requires changes at five U.S. internet giants, taking effect today. The Biden administration sent two official letters of protest to Brussels, raising concerns of industry associations and members of Congress, but it stopped short of pushing the issue as the administration seeks to maintain the transatlantic relationship.

How Microsoft’s Bing Helps Maintain Beijing’s Great Firewall

Bloomberg | Mar 07, 2024

  • Microsoft provided an unintended glimpse of how it works with Beijing to give Chinese users a sanitized view of the internet when the company accidentally applied the blacklist it uses for the Chinese version of Bing to the entire world in 2021, just before the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, when Microsoft’s Bing search engine stopped displaying famous photographs of Tank Man, the lone protester who blocked an armored column during the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989.

Europe’s Digital Markets Act is forcing tech giants to make changes. Here’s what that will look like

Associated Press | Mar 06, 2024

  • On Wednesday at midnight, under the EU's Digital Markes Act, the "gatekeepers" Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Meta, Microsoft, and ByteDance will have to start following regulations allowing Europeans the choices for default browsers and search engines, where to download iPhone apps and how their online data is used.

OpenAI, Microsoft AI tools generate misleading election images, researchers say

Reuters | Mar 06, 2024

  • Following last month's signing of an agreement by a large group of big tech companies to prevent AI-generated content from interfering in global elections, researchers say in a report on Wednesday that tools powered by AI from companies, including Open AI and Microsoft, can be used to produce content promoting elections or voting-related disinformation.

Microsoft engineer warns company’s AI tool creates violent, sexual images, ignores copyrights

CNBC | Mar 06, 2024

  • On Wednesday, Shane Jones, an artificial intelligence engineer at Microsoft, sent letters to FTC Chair Lina Khan and Microsoft's board after testing Copilot Designer. He claims the company has not taken appropriate action despite his warnings that the AI image generator has been creating sexual and violent content.

Top AI researchers say OpenAI, Meta and more hinder independent evaluations

The Washington Post | Mar 05, 2024

  • Top artificial intelligence researchers have signed an open letter calling on generative AI companies to allow investigators access to their systems, saying strict protocols designed to keep bad actors from abusing AI systems instead have a chilling effect on independent research.

Exclusive: Public trust in AI is sinking across the board

Axios | Mar 05, 2024

  • According to new data from Edelman, which was first shared with Axios, trust in AI technology and the companies that develop it is dropping in the U.S. and other developed countries, while developing countries are more likely to embrace AI.

What an American Approach to AI Regulation Should Look Like

TIME | Mar 05, 2024

  • While the EU and China have raced ahead on AI regulation, Washington faces the challenge of developing a uniquely American approach to AI regulation that will secure the US as the global AI leader.

How Mistral became French for AI

Axios | Feb 29, 2024

  • Paris-based Mistral is corralling enough investment and attention, including a Microsoft partnership, to put it in the top tier of AI companies globally, aiding President Emmanuel Macron's goal to establish Paris as the EU's tech hub after Brexit.

Grocery Tycoon With $21 Billion Fortune Caught in FTC’s Crosshairs

Bloomberg | Feb 29, 2024

  • To lessen criticisms from regulators of their $25 billion merger, Kroger Co. and Albertsons Cos. agreed to sell 413 supermarkets in 17 states for $1.9 billion to C&S Wholesale Grocers, a wholesaler with a history of closing unionized facilities, claiming the sale would create a strong competitor, ensuring no stores would close as a result of the merger.

EU probes Microsoft's security software practices

Reuters | Feb 28, 2024

  • As Microsoft's cloud-computing practices come under question with the rise in criticism that the company is allegedly seeking a monopoly, the European Commission is probing if the company is preventing customers from relying on security software from its competitors.

EU balks at Microsoft’s deal with French AI startup

Politico | Feb 28, 2024

  • The deal between Microsoft and the French startup Mistral, meaning that Mistral can train its AI technology on Microsoft's supercomputers, was announced on Monday.
  • The partnership has drawn criticism from EU policymakers after the French government's lobbying over the Artificial Intelligence Act, seeking changes to allow innovative European AI firms like Mistral to grow and enable them to potentially rival American tech giants.

SEC Investigating Whether OpenAI Investors Were Misled

The Wall Street Journal | Feb 28, 2024

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is examining internal communications of CEO Sam Altman OpenAI as part of an investigation into whether the company’s investors were misled.

Microsoft, OpenAI move to fend off genAI-aided hackers — for now

Computerworld | Feb 27, 2024

  • Generative AI tools like OpenAI's ChatGPT and Microsoft's Copilot present potential nightmares of existing hacking techniques being made more effective to break into even the most hardened systems.

Stanford study outlines risks and benefits of open AI models

Axios | Feb 27, 2024

  • Stanford University's Human-Centered AI researchers publish paper to better understand open source AI and the need for a framework for assessing the benefits and risks stemming from open source AI.

Warren Calls for New Limits on Big Tech’s Push into AI

Bloomberg | Feb 27, 2024

  • On Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren called for a new restriction barring the three major cloud providers, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, from developing certain artificial intelligence technologies, arguing they are in the position to crush smaller competitors in the emerging AI technology of large language models
  • When interviewed on Bloomberg Television's "Balance of Power," Senator Warren assailed proposed acquisitions of Warren and attacked the Kroger-Albertsons and Capital One-Discover deals, dismissing arguments that the deals could help the companies compete with Walmart in groceries or with Visa and Mastercard in payment processing.

Challenging Big Tech in the Age of AI

Public Knowledge | Feb 27, 2024

  • Today’s big tech platforms that may already be the gatekeepers controlling the new AI industry are even more powerful than those of past monopolists.
  • With many of the complex features of the AI industry, even with pro-competition policies, there is likely to be a significant consolidation around existing technology gatekeepers with access to the inputs necessary to succeed in the AI industry.

FTC Puts Labor Focus In Merger Basket For 1st Time

Law360 | Feb 27, 2024

  • On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission made it known that, for the first time, it will challenge mergers on allegations of the reduction of competition for employees.
  • Through its in-house process and in Oregon federal court, the FTC attacked Kroger's planned $24.6 billion purchase of Albertsons on the basis that it would increase prices and reduce choice by eliminating head-to-head grocery store competition in overlapping geographic markets and that the merger would reduce bargaining leverage for the union representing Kroger and Albertsons' nearly 700,000 combined employees nationwide.

Exclusive: Google steps up Microsoft criticism, warns of rival's monopoly in cloud

Reuters | Feb 26, 2024

  • The tech giant Google criticizes rival Microsoft for allegedly seeking a monopoly over cloud computing practices that would harm the development of emerging technologies such as generative artificial intelligence.

Microsoft President Visited White House Dozens Of Times Amid Effort To Influence Biden

Daily Caller | Feb 26, 2024

  • The leaders of Microsoft and its partner OpenAI have contributed significantly to Biden's campaign. At the same time, White House visitor logs show that Microsoft President Brad Smith visited the White House on 30 occasions as the company aims to shape the administration's policies on AI.

Why Microsoft Has Accepted Unions, Unlike Its Rivals

The New York Times | Feb 26, 2024

  • It was only later in the morning, a Friday, that the catch became apparent: One-third of the studio’s roughly 35 testers were being let go as part of the overhaul. The workers were stunned. Raven was owned by Activision Blizzard, one of the industry’s largest companies, and there appeared to be plenty of work to go around. Several testers had just worked late into the night to meet a looming deadline.

US sues to block merger of grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons, saying it could push prices higher

The Associated Press | Feb 26, 2024

  • On Monday, the FTC filed an administrative complaint against Kroger and Albertsons to block a proposed merger, stating the $24.6 billion deal would eliminate competition and leave millions of Americans facing higher prices.

New report: 60% of OpenAI model's responses contain plagiarism

Axios | Feb 22, 2024

  • The plagiarism detector Copyleaks found that 60% of OpenAI's GPT-3.5 outputs contained some form of plagiarism, with content creators, from authors and songwriters to The New York Times, arguing in court that generative AI trained on copyrighted material spitting out exact copies.

Wall Street is loving AI while Big Tech is warning employees about how they use it

Business Insider | Feb 22, 2024

  • With the generative AI boom in swing, chipmaker Nvidia's stock skyrocketed, adding the equivalent of Netflix's entire market cap to its valuation in a single day.
  • The world's biggest tech companies pitch third-party generative AI tools to customers; behind the scenes, they warn their employees against their use for work, warry of the issues and risks of models still in development.

Amazon hopes to avoid labor regulation by simply abolishing national watchdogs

The Register | Feb 22, 2024

  • Amazon, SpaceX, and Trader Joe's, facing similar labor complaints of illegal retaliation, continue to challenge the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
  • Such claims come at a time when the Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals have indicated they're willing to reconsider the power of some government agencies.

Regulating competition in the AI market: a new David versus Goliath?

InCyber News | Feb 20, 2024

  • After the AI Act and the European Competition Authority’s proceedings against Microsoft, OpenIA, and generative AI, the French Competition Authority announced on February 8, 2024, that it had launched an investigation to “analyze its competitive functioning.“ At issue is the concentration and vertical integration of the market, which could kill off all competition.

AI Providers Face Broad Liability Under FTC’s Deepfakes Proposal

Bloomberg Law | Feb 20, 2024

  • The Federal Trade Commission is considering whether the makers of AI tools like OpenAI’s Dall-E and its new text-to-video model Sora or Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion, which let people generate video, audio, and image impersonations should be held liable when digital dupes lead to fraud.
  • Lawyers are pushing back on the FTC’s recommended approach, arguing it hits too broadly and could stop innocent uses of the technology, not just bad ones.

Microsoft, OpenAI Confirm Nation-States are Weaponizing Generative AI in Cyber-Attacks

Infosecurity Magazine | Feb 15, 2024

  • Threat groups from Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran are leveraging generative AI tools, including large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, to support campaigns rather than using these tools to develop novel attack or abuse techniques.
  • LLMs can assist with common tasks performed during cyber campaigns, including reconnaissance, such as learning about potential victims’ industries, locations, and relationships.

Amazon Argues Labor Board Is Unconstitutional

The New York Times | Feb 15, 2024

  • In a legal filing, Amazon echos SpaceX and Trader Joe's by arguing that the National Labor Relations Board is unconstitutional as labor board prosecutors accuse the company of illegally retaliating against workers at a unionized Staten Island warehouse.

Microsoft, OpenAI say U.S. rivals use artificial intelligence in hacking

Washington Post | Feb 14, 2024

  • Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea are using the newest wave of AI tools to improve their hacking abilities and find new targets for online espionage.
  • The first report to associate top-tier government hacking teams with specific uses of LLM and on countermeasures comes amid a continuing debate about the risks of the rapidly developing technology and efforts by many countries to put some limits on its use.

AI could disrupt the election. Congress is running out of time to respond

CNN | Feb 14, 2024

  • With nine months until Americans head to the ballot box, artificial intelligence is already sowing chaos and confusion in US elections, with few signs that Congress is ready to pass any meaningful legislation on AI.

Colorado AG sues to block Kroger-Albertsons merger

Denver Gazette | Feb 14, 2024

  • Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is suing to block the nearly $25 billion Kroger-Albertsons merger after claiming Kroger has violated the state's antitrust laws, including having a "non-poach" agreement to keep striking workers from taking a job at each other's stores.

AI companies agree to limit election ‘deepfakes’ but fall short of ban

Washington Post | Feb 13, 2024

  • Google, Microsoft, Meta, OpenAI, Adobe, and TikTok plan to sign an “accord” committing to developing tech to identify, label, and control AI-generated images, videos, and audio recordings that aim to deceive voters ahead of crucial elections in multiple countries this year.
  • The agreement does not ban deceptive political AI content.

FTC chair Khan: Stop monopolies before they happen

Axios | Feb 13, 2024

  • FTC chair Lina Khan is hunting for evidence that Microsoft, Google, and Amazon require cloud computing spend, board seats or exclusivity deals in return for their investments in AI startups.

OpenAI CEO says ‘very subtle’ misalignments could make AI wreak havoc

The Hill | Feb 13, 2024

  • OpenAI CEO Sam Altman warns that the “very subtle societal misalignments” within artificial intelligence could cause things to “go horribly wrong” while still expressing optimism about the technology’s benefits.
  • Altman argues that OpenAI should not be the one determining regulations over its quickly advancing technology.

FTC to Tech Firms: Quietly Changing a Privacy Policy Could Break the Law

PC Magazine | Feb 13, 2024

  • FTC warns that quietly making changes to privacy policies and terms of service agreements could break the law if the goal is to harness user data.

DOJ’s Jonathan Kanter says the antitrust fight against Big Tech is just beginning

The Verge | Feb 12, 2024

  • Jonathan Kanter is leading a major charge regarding competition in tech and media, with the US government blocking a record number of mergers in the past few years.

Uber, Lyft, DoorDash drivers in the U.S. to strike on Valentine’s Day for fair pay

NBC News | Feb 12, 2024

  • Seeking fair pay, thousands of drivers for ride-sharing platforms Uber and Lyft and food delivery app DoorDash will strike across the United States on Valentine’s Day.

Are unions actually growing? | This Week in Business

GamesIndustry.biz | Feb 09, 2024

  • The formation of the IGN Creators Guild is the latest evidence of a trend that might have a stronger basis in perception than reality

In Big Tech’s backyard, California lawmaker unveils landmark AI bill

The Washington Post | Feb 08, 2024

  • The landmark proposal could inspire regulation around the country, as more than 44 U.S. states take up the swiftly evolving technology spurring 407 AI-related bills

The FTC isn’t too happy with Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard layoffs

Polygon | Feb 08, 2024

  • Microsoft reneged on promises it made in court during its Federal Trade Commission (FTC) antitrust trial in 2023 by laying off 1,900 employees in late January, according to the FTC. FTC lawyer Imad Abyad filed a letter with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday, effectively telling on Microsoft.
  • “This newly-revealed information contradicts Microsoft’s representations in this proceeding,” the FTC lawyer wrote.

How competition between big and small AI will shape the tech's future

Axios | Feb 06, 2024

  • Small AI advocates argue that only the tech giants will be able to afford to develop big AI-style models and if Microsoft and Google dominate, Big Tech's power and profits will just keep growing.
  • The outcome of this conflict will depend as much on regulation from Washington as on what comes out of the industry's labs.

It’s Time To Take A Bite Out Of Apple’s Monopoly

Common Dreams | Feb 06, 2024

  • By launching a strong antitrust suit that tackles Apple’s offenses on all fronts, the DOJ will take a meaningful step towards ensuring real corporate accountability.

FTC, Amazon spar over antitrust lawsuit that could ‘alter’ the company

The Seattle Times | Feb 06, 2024

  • The case against Amazon is “a straightforward story of illegal conduct,” attorneys for the agency wrote Tuesday. “It lays out how Amazon is a monopolist … enriching itself while harming its customers.”

The great US-Europe antitrust divide

Financial Times | Feb 05, 2024

  • Bringing the US and Europe together is key to successfully curbing both the power of Silicon Valley’s largest companies and the Chinese surveillance state, especially given how artificial intelligence is further entrenching the dominance of both.

Why Is Big Tech Still Cutting Jobs?

The New York Times | Feb 05, 2024

  • The layoffs continued even as sales and profits jumped and share prices spiked.
  • Now, instead of hiring thousands of people every quarter, the companies are spending billions to build A.I. technology that they believe could one day be worth trillions.

Ticketmaster DOJ Antitrust Probe Sees New Document Requests

Bloomberg | Feb 05, 2024

  • Agency requested more information from rivals in December
  • Prosecutors annoyed with lack of cooperation from Live Nation

After Amazon-iRobot the FTC Is More ‘Focused’ on Blocking Bad Deals

Bloomberg | Jan 31, 2024

  • “That’s a big change in direction,” said Slaughter. “We are extremely focused on deterrence in our work,” adding that lawsuits send an “important market-wide message about where our concerns are.”

Big Tech executives to appear at Senate hearing to defend social media’s impact on teens

CNN | Jan 31, 2024

  • Facebook whistleblower Arturo Béjar went public and told US lawmakers last year that Meta and other execs disregarded his survey research finding that, among other things, more than 25% of 13-to-15-year-olds have reported receiving unwanted sexual advances on Instagram.

CNBC Transcript: FTC Chair Lina Khan Speaks with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Today

CNBC | Jan 29, 2024

  • I think one of the things to think about is, you know, these 1,900 employees that were laid off, there could be among them the next big game developer, right? What does the market now look like for their employment?
  • I mean, over the last few years through these waves of acquisitions, you had a lot of the independent studios gobbled up, and just in terms of getting your idea to market, there are fewer and fewer pathways. And so, that’s bad for the workers, but it’s ultimately also bad for consumers and for the market as a whole.

Months After Merging With Activision, Microsoft Lays Off Gaming Employees

The American Prospect | Jan 26, 2024

  • The Communications Workers of America supported the merger after securing union neutrality commitments. So far, it has led only to a smaller workforce.
  • Marshall Steinbaum, an economics professor at the University of Utah who’s been critical of union support for large corporate mergers, put it more bluntly: “This shows it was a mistake for CWA to support the merger.”

Senator Urges FTC to ‘Unwind’ Microsoft Activision Merger After Mass Layoffs

| Jan 26, 2024

  • U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “unwind” Microsoft‘s purchase of Activision Blizzard after the Xbox maker announced mass layoffs across its gaming division yesterday.
  • PSLS

The campaign to take down the Biden AI executive order

POLITICO | Jan 26, 2024

  • Republicans, right-of-center think tanks and tech lobbyists are working to defang the industry-facing sections of Biden’s AI executive order.

Analysis: Microsoft layoffs are the latest example of gaming industry labor issues

Geekwire | Jan 25, 2024

  • Microsoft’s latest round of layoffs is just a symptom of a much larger issue concerning labor rights and abuses, which could and should change the direction of the international games industry.

Federal Trade Commission announces market inquiry between AI developers and cloud service providers

FedScoop | Jan 25, 2024

  • Chairwoman Lina Khan announced that the FTC will look to delete AI models and unlawfully collected data that threaten fair competition or trick the public.

The Davos elite embraced AI in 2023. Now they fear it.

The Washington Post | Jan 18, 2024

  • Between wine tastings and sledding excursions, world leaders fret over AI-powered misinformation and job displacement

Why the Google Antitrust Trial is a Win for All Consumers

Harvard Political Review | Jan 18, 2024

  • While Google may be the best option for consumers now, that doesn’t mean it always will be. We are swiftly approaching a juncture where generative AI could completely revolutionize search engines to provide more accurate, personal, and accessible search results.

Developers Blast Apple’s 27% Fee On External Payments: ‘Bad Faith Compliance’

Forbes | Jan 17, 2024

  • Apple’s decision to charge a 27% fee on all in-app purchases made through external payment platforms faced pushback from developers hours after the iPhone maker was effectively forced to update its App Store policies after the Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal from the company.
  • Sweeney, the CEO of Epic—a video game developer who had brought the case against Apple—termed the changes as a “bad faith ‘compliance’” of the court order. He called the 27% fee an “anticompetitive” new tax and said Epic would contest the matter in court.

Amazon, Microsoft, Meta and others accused by rivals of not respecting new EU competition rules

CNBC | Jan 16, 2024

  • A raft of major technology and media companies have signed an open letter accusing tech giants of failing to bring their businesses into full compliance with incoming European Union digital competition rules.
  • The signatories say that companies defined by the EU as “gatekeepers,” including Google, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft, and TikTok owner ByteDance, haven’t done enough to engage effectively with them and others in their industry.

Proposed Kroger, Albertsons merger will take more time to close as scrutiny continues

CNBC | Jan 15, 2024

  • Supermarket chain Kroger’s proposed acquisition of rival Albertsons is now expected to close in the first half of Kroger’s fiscal year 2024 instead of early this year. Ongoing discussions with federal regulators delayed the deal’s close.
  • The proposed merger has faced intense opposition from U.S. lawmakers and political leaders due to antitrust concerns and worries that consolidation will lead to higher prices and fewer shopping options for consumers.

The FTC’s unprecedented move against data brokers, explained

MIT Technology Review | Jan 15, 2024

  • A major financial software company was shut down for inappropriately using private information, and then this week, the FTC took an unprecedented step and banned a data broker from selling people’s location data. It’s a major move that could signal some more aggressive action from policy makers to curb the corrosive effects that data brokers have on personal privacy.
  • In a statement, Senator Ron Wyden’s office said, “While the FTC’s action is encouraging, the agency should not have to play data broker whack-a-mole. Congress needs to pass tough privacy legislation to protect Americans’ personal information and prevent government agencies from going around the courts by buying our data from data brokers.”

Artificial: Episode 4, Behind Sam Altman’s Firing

Wall Street Journal | Jan 14, 2024

  • When the OpenAI board ousted CEO Sam Altman last November, very few people knew exactly what was behind it. In the final episode of our series, we reveal what led to Altman’s firing and explain why he was able to get his job back just days later. Plus, an exclusive interview with one of the people who fired him.

Meet the woman who transformed Sam Altman into the avatar of AI

Washington Post | Jan 11, 2024

  • Anna Makanju orchestrated the OpenAI CEO’s political debut like a diplomatic mission. But Congress’s AI push could test the company’s friendly reputation.
  • But OpenAI, which has taken billions of dollars in investment from Microsoft, is not a neutral tutor. Its intimate seat with policymakers has bestowed Altman a rare form of influence. And the company’s critics are wary that a campaign playing out in closed door meetings sets the stage for regulatory capture.

World Economic Forum ditches Greta Thunberg for Sam Altman in push toward AI: sources

New York Post | Jan 11, 2024

  • At next week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the climate activist Greta Thunberg – a notable fixture at the conference in recent years – isn’t expected to make an appearance this time around, sources told On The Money.
  • OpenAI boss Sam Altman will headline a panel discussion titled “Technology in a Turbulent World” on how artificial intelligence can be used as a driving force for the economy and society.

Opinion: Biden administration’s antitrust victories are much-needed wins for consumers

MarketWatch | Jan 10, 2024

  • Efforts by U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to sustain and enhance competition seem to be bearing fruit.
  • The FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice have issued updated merger guidelines that demarcate important new boundaries that remain firmly embedded in U.S. antitrust legal traditions.

Microsoft’s OpenAI Ties Face Potential EU Merger Probe

Bloomberg | Jan 09, 2024

  • Microsoft Corp.’s $13 billion investment into OpenAI Inc. risks a full-blown investigation by European Union deals watchdogs, after a mutiny at the ChatGPT creator laid bare deep ties between the two companies.

Microsoft’s Nadella can be questioned in gamers’ Activision deal lawsuit

Reuters | Jan 09, 2024

  • U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in an order denied Microsoft’s bid to stop the gamers’ lawyers from deposing Nadella, who has served as CEO since 2014 and helped guide the company’s blockbuster deal for Activision that closed in October.

Amazon, Microsoft Boosting Saudi Offices Amid State Pressure

Bloomberg | Jan 08, 2024

  • Global technology giants including Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Microsoft Corp. are among firms working to ramp up their presence in Saudi Arabia amid pressure from the government, which has said it will stop giving contracts to companies without regional headquarters in the country.

Big Tech layoffs shattered industry, worker confidence

Axios | Jan 03, 2024

  • Sweeping layoffs across Big Tech over the past two years have left a permanent impression on leaders and workers.
  • Roger Lee says the job market for tech workers hasn't bounced back fully and that it's become a lot harder for people to find new roles.

EU lassos tech giants in bid to rein in the AI Wild West

The Register | Jan 03, 2024

  • In December legislators began to rein in how the systems might be developed and deployed.
  • In a provisional agreement, the EU's Parliament and Council proposed outright bans on some applications and obligations on the developers of AI deemed high risk.

Brad Smith backtracks on CMA spat after 2023 regulatory battle

ITPro | Jan 03, 2024

  • Microsoft president Brad Smith has backtracked on his hefty criticism of the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority following approval for the company's acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

Workers wrested a seat at the table on AI this year. Will it be enough?

NBC News | Dec 27, 2023

  • From Hollywood to Microsoft, labor groups are expanding their influence over how artificial intelligence is used in the workplace, but there are fears the technology may outrun them.

New Merger Guidelines Quietly Reshape the Business Landscape

TAP | Dec 19, 2023

  • It just got much harder for companies to buy up their competitors.
  • The legal document amounts to a new corporate charter for American commerce that sends a clear message: In order to grow, companies will have to focus on investing in product, innovation, and job quality instead of relying on acquiring competitors through mergers and acquisitions.

FTC’s Khan and DOJ’s Kanter Beat Back Deals at Fastest Clip in Decades

Bloomberg | Dec 18, 2023

  • FTC, DOJ filed 50 enforcement actions to fix, block deals
  • 2022 marked second-highest ever volume of mergers reported

How Microsoft’s multibillion-dollar alliance with OpenAI really works

Financial Times | Dec 15, 2023

  • In fact, Microsoft’s billions — which include huge investments in data centre infrastructure as OpenAI’s “exclusive cloud provider” — entitle it to up to 49 per cent of the profit generated by a subsidiary of OpenAI, according to people familiar with the deal.
  • However, the US Federal Trade Commission is now looking into Microsoft’s investment in the company, according to a person familiar with the matter, although no formal investigation has been launched.

How Microsoft’s AI chatbot ‘hallucinates’ election information

TNW | Dec 15, 2023

  • Bing made up 'scandalous behaviour' of political candidates

Netflix Actually Shared Viewership Data; Why Xbox Is The Key For Microsoft Ads

AdExchanger | Dec 14, 2023

  • Microsoft’s relationship with Netflix and its investments in generative AI search get a lot of attention. But Microsoft Advertising’s real secret sauce is Xbox.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney: the post-trial interview

The Verge | Dec 12, 2023

  • Epic won. What does the lawsuit’s architect think?

This A.I. Subculture’s Motto: Go, Go, Go

The New York Times | Dec 10, 2023

  • The eccentric pro-tech movement known as “Effective Accelerationism” wants to unshackle powerful A.I., and party along the way.

Inside OpenAI’s Crisis Over the Future of Artificial Intelligence

The New York Times | Dec 09, 2023

  • Split over the leadership of Sam Altman, board members and executives turned on one another. Their brawl exposed the cracks at the heart of the A.I. movement.

Microsoft, OpenAI tie-up comes under antitrust scrutiny

Reuters | Dec 08, 2023

  • Microsoft's partnership with ChatGPT maker OpenAI is under US and UK antitrust scrutiny, the British regulator and a media report said on Friday, following the startup's boardroom battle that led to the sudden ouster and return of CEO Sam Altman.
  • The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also examining whether the investment could have violated antitrust laws, Bloomberg News reported, adding that the inquiries were preliminary and the agency has not opened a formal investigation.

A Gaming Company’s Workers Unionized. But the Union Busting Didn’t End There.

TAP | Dec 08, 2023

  • TCGplayer, a subsidiary of eBay, has stalled negotiations on a first contract, despite the union winning an election in March.

Make no mistake—AI is owned by Big Tech

MIT Technology Review | Dec 05, 2023

  • If we’re not careful, Microsoft, Amazon, and other large companies will leverage their position to set the policy agenda for AI, as they have in many other sectors.

Key Congress staffers in AI debate are funded by tech giants like Google and Microsoft

POLITICO | Dec 03, 2023

  • Big tech companies are funneling money through a science nonprofit to help pay the salaries of AI staffers in Congress — and it’s just one example of the increasing influence outside-funded fellows are exerting on tech policy in Washington.
  • The new “rapid response cohort” of congressional AI fellows is run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Washington-based nonprofit, with substantial support from Microsoft, OpenAI, Google, IBM and Nvidia, according to the AAAS.

Exclusive: Google pushes for antitrust action against Microsoft in UK cloud market

Reuters | Dec 01, 2023

  • Google has called on Britain’s antitrust regulator to take action against Microsoft, claiming its business practices had left rivals at a significant disadvantage, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

Big Tech Is Exploiting the Mental Health Crisis to Monetize Your Data

Jacobin | Dec 01, 2023

  • Tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon are increasingly developing apps and services offering mental health treatment.
  • The value of these products for users is dubious — but they do promise the companies lucrative new sources of highly personal data.

FTC can seek tough new restrictons on Meta’s use of personal data, federal judge rules

CNN | Nov 28, 2023

  • A federal judge will not block the US government from expanding a landmark $5 billion privacy settlement with Instagram-parent Meta, paving the way for the Federal Trade Commission to propose tough new rules on how the social media giant can monetize user data.

The Tech Giants’ Anti-regulation Fantasy

The Atlantic | Nov 27, 2023

  • Major internet companies pretend that they’re best left alone. History shows otherwise.

The real story of the OpenAI debacle is the tyranny of big tech

The Guardian | Nov 27, 2023

  • The latest episode should jolt us out of our complacency and force us to confront the dangers of monopoly capitalism
  • It turns out Microsoft won’t have to take on the entire cast of characters, since Altman is now set to return to OpenAI under a new board leadership, which should allow Microsoft to keep its privileged relationship without assuming any liability for employee costs or research and development. Either way, it’s a win-win for Microsoft.

The Calm Confusion After the Storm

Politico Morning Tech | Nov 21, 2023

  • Swirling reports that it came down to a disagreement over safety versus speed may crimp the influence Altman and the company have in Washington as policymakers continue to mull potential guardrails for the industry. But for now, players in the D.C. tech scene are watching the Silicon Valley drama unfold waiting until the dust settles to weigh in.
  • George Rakis, executive director for NextGen Competition, said the latest developments with Altman allow “[Microsoft] to acquire OpenAI's intellectual property with ZERO federal oversight or the need for regulatory approval.”

Microsoft’s Altman ‘acquisition’ stokes fear AI control is consolidating

The Washington Post | Nov 21, 2023

  • Sam Altman’s plan to join tech giant Microsoft after his ouster as the influential face of ChatGPT-maker OpenAI is reigniting concern that control over artificial-intelligence tools is becoming too concentrated among a small number of Silicon Valley titans.
  • The move could allow Microsoft “to acquire OpenAI's intellectual property with ZERO federal oversight or the need for regulatory approval,” warned George Rakis, executive director of the advocacy group NextGen Competition, in a statement.

Don’t expect competition authorities to wade into the Microsoft-OpenAI power-play — yet

TechCrunch | Nov 20, 2023

  • The Microsoft CEO’s carefully constructed public lines look intended for both Microsoft investors and any watchful competition regulators. For investors Nadella’s message is essentially ‘keep calm, we’re carrying on’. For regulators it sounds more like: ‘Keep calm, there’s nothing to see here’ — or, ‘we’re still an OpenAI “partner” and we’re still working with them; we’re definitely not in control of the whole AI shebang honest!’.
  • “I don’t see a route through which a regulator can actually pull this in,” said Cristina Caffarra, a leading competition economist and honorary professor at University College London, discussing whether the unfolding situation around Microsoft and OpenAI could trigger attention from antitrust regulators.

Coalition Calls on FTC, DOJ to Investigate AI Market Consolidation

POLITICO Morning Tech | Nov 17, 2023

  • A coalition of antitrust advocates is calling on the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to investigate some of the largest tech companies’ hefty investments in newer AI firms, sounding the alarm that it adds to a “foundation of Big Tech dominance in the AI space.”
  • The coalition of more than 20 groups — including Demand Progress, the Revolving Door Project and NextGen Competition — argues in a letter today to FTC Chair Lina Khan and DOJ antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter that “the growing investment in AI may be more than just a strategic choice — it potentially serves as an attempt to evade antitrust scrutiny.”

US lawmakers question Apple over Jon Stewart's China content

Reuters | Nov 15, 2023

  • U.S. lawmakers asked Apple Inc to explain the abrupt end of political comedian Jon Stewart's television show on its streaming service, according to a letter made public on Wednesday, citing concerns that content related to China was behind the cancellation.

The FTC Lawsuit Against Amazon Is the Biggest Antitrust Fight of Our Time

The Nation | Nov 10, 2023

  • It’s also a test of whether even the federal government has the power, and the political will, to rein in corporate monopoly power.

Expert survey: Don't trust tech CEOs on AI

Axios | Nov 08, 2023

  • Dishonest, untrustworthy and disingenuous — that's how a majority of experts surveyed from leading universities view AI companies' CEOs and executives.
  • What's happening: 56% of computer science professors at top U.S. research universities surveyed by Axios, Generation Lab, and Syracuse University described the corporate leaders as "extremely disingenuous" or "somewhat disingenuous" in their calls for regulation of AI.

FTC Stakes Out Regulatory Role Over AI, Warning It May ‘Turbocharge’ Scams

Decrypt | Nov 07, 2023

  • With AI surging into the mainstream, the FTC stresses the need for vigorous enforcement to protect consumers and competition.

FTC Chair Lina Khan on AI regulation, startup acquisitions, and more

Y Combinator | Nov 07, 2023

  • FTC Chair Lina Khan went on a whirlwind tour of Silicon Valley last week as she looks to better understand and strengthen the relationship between Silicon Valley and DC.

An FTC lawsuit could create a better online marketplace for us all

The Hill | Nov 07, 2023

  • Amazon also uses its size — the large variety of products it sells and its customer base — to spread the costs of setting up its national delivery and logistics network and use its purchasing power to buy in bulk at discounted rates. Consumers could benefit from these lower prices if Amazon faces competition.
  • If the FTC succeeds in its lawsuit, it could potentially help create a marketplace that truly benefits the ecosystem of sellers and all consumers.

FTC’s Khan Defends Record of Cracking Down on Unlawful Mergers

Bloomberg | Nov 03, 2023

  • “We only bring lawsuits where we believe there’s a law violation and where we think we can win,” Khan said in an interview Thursday with Bloomberg Television.
  • Khan noted that the agency is appealing a court ruling allowing Microsoft Corp.’s $69 billion acquisition of video game company Activision Blizzard Inc.after the FTC challenged the deal.

FTC Chair Lina Khan on Antitrust in the age of Amazon

NPR | Nov 03, 2023

  • On today's show, a conversation with FTC Chair Lina Khan on what it's like to try to turn audacious theory into bureaucratic practice, the FTC's new lawsuit against Amazon, and what it all means for business as usual.

A Jury Will Decide If Google's App Store Is an Unjust Monopoly

WIRED | Nov 01, 2023

  • Fortnite developer Epic has pushed back on Google’s control of the Android app store. The courtroom showdown could force the search giant to offer users more apps, at more affordable prices.

The Guardian rips Microsoft for distasteful generative AI poll about death

Axios | Oct 31, 2023

  • The Guardian Media Group is demanding that Microsoft take public responsibility for running a distasteful AI-generated poll alongside a Guardian article about a woman found dead at a school in Australia.
  • This application of genAI by Microsoft is exactly the sort of instance that we have warned about in relation to news, and a key reason why we have previously requested to your teams that we do not want Microsoft's experimental genAI technologies applied to journalism licensed from the Guardian.

Winning the Anti-monopoly Game

Washington Monthly | Oct 29, 2023

  • Despite press accounts to the contrary, the Biden administration’s revival of antitrust policy isn’t failing. It’s just getting started.
  • Hot takes like these reflect a spoon-fed PR narrative from the tech platforms in the government’s cross hairs. But a quick perusal of history books, or even a glance at Wikipedia, should dispel the notion that a few adverse rulings mean curtains for the revival of antitrust enforcement.

Hiding in plain sight: The most secretive trial of 2023 is the most important antitrust trial of the century

The Hill | Oct 27, 2023

  • The antitrust trial against Google’s search engine monopoly has slipped under the radar, and it’s a damning reflection of the state of our public court system.
  • Gaining access to this trial is an arduous task. In an era of unprecedented connectivity, we find ourselves isolated from proceedings.

Sweeping new Biden order aims to alter the AI landscape

POLITICO | Oct 27, 2023

  • The White House is poised to make an all-hands effort to impose national rules on a fast-moving technology, according to a draft executive order.

Inside Google’s Plan to Stop Apple From Getting Serious About Search

The New York Times | Oct 26, 2023

  • Google has worried for years that Apple would one day expand its internet search technology, and has been working on ways to prevent that from happening.
  • Those fears ratcheted up in 2021, when Google paid Apple around $18 billion to keep Google’s search engine the default selection on iPhones.

A NEW PUSH TO UNIONIZE ACTIVISION BLIZZARD HAS ALREADY BEGUN

Inverse | Oct 25, 2023

  • “Our organizers are following up with workers who have expressed interest in forming a union,” the Communications Workers of America tells Inverse.

Britain’s proposed regulation of Big Tech must not be weakened, US economist warns

Financial Times | Oct 21, 2023

  • Jason Furman and others write to Sunak in push to fend off industry requests for more leeway in appealing against enforcement
  • The tech industry, including Apple and Microsoft, have lobbied the government for changes to the bill that would make it easier to appeal against the regulator’s decisions.

Microsoft's acquisition of Activision makes Big Tech even bigger — and harder to rein in

MarketWatch | Oct 21, 2023

  • The mantra among Big Tech seems to be "merge now while you can," because the law makes it hard to derail vertical deals. "It is almost near impossible," Abiel Garcia, former deputy attorney general for the state of California, said in an interview.

A former FCC chair wants to steal Big Tech’s moves

POLITICO | Oct 19, 2023

  • In his new book published this week, “Techlash: Who Makes The Rules In The Digital Age?”, former Federal Communications Commission Chair Tom Wheeler says regulators have failed to rein in Big Tech because they’re using outdated tools.
  • Call it something like “regulatory futurism” — Wheeler is saying now is the time for the government to get innovative by setting up new agencies with wide-reaching powers to determine what is and isn’t in the public’s best interest when it comes to tech.

The Video Game Industry Calls It “Crunch.” Workers Call It Exploitation.

Jacobin | Oct 19, 2023

  • In the video game industry, “crunch” refers to an extended period of strenuous unpaid work in the months on either side of a game launch. Industry leaders spin it as an initiation ritual, but it’s really exploitation of game workers.
  • But when we peel back the layers of spin, we can see crunch culture for what it really is: exploitation.

Microsoft-Activision is a done deal – but what if the FTC still wins? Ask Whole Foods.

Reuters | Oct 19, 2023

  • Although the Federal Trade Commission to date has lost every attempt to halt the merger, the antitrust enforcer isn’t stepping down.
  • Agency lawyers are set to appear before a federal appeals court in December to argue the deal is anticompetitive, while also prepping for an in-house administrative trial further down the road.

UK regulator puts Amazon and Microsoft on notice with details of cloud investigation

Geekwire | Oct 17, 2023

  • The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) outlined the scope of its planned investigation into major public cloud platforms, singling out Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure over concerns that their business practices may be locking customers into using their services.

FTC Scrutinizing Microsoft-Activision Deal Despite UK Approval

Communications Daily | Oct 16, 2023

  • NextGen Competition Executive Director George Rakis urged the FTC to continue scrutinizing and ultimately unwind the deal, citing Microsoft’s 20-year campaign blocking its U.S. workforce from unionizing. “The closing of the largest merger in tech history marks a sad day for competition, worker rights, and consumers,” said Rakis.

Microsoft buys Call of Duty maker Activision in a hotly contested deal

The Washington Post | Oct 13, 2023

  • Some of Activision’s staffers voted last year to unionize with the Communications Workers of America. The company has been accused of union busting by its workers in the past; Microsoft has said it will respect gaming workers’ right to unionize.
  • Microsoft faced scrutiny from countries around the globe over the acquisition of Activision, testing the company’s longtime president, Brad Smith.

Microsoft Asks Controversial Activision CEO Bobby Kotick To Stay For Two More Months

Kotaku | Oct 13, 2023

  • Nearly two years after over 1,000 of his employees called on the controversial executive to resign, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer confirmed that Kotick will remain the head of the Call of Duty publisher until the end of 2023, to help with the transition as it begins officially merging with the tech giant.
  • According to reporting by Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, the mounting calls for accountability and unease among some members of the board of directors were a factor in convincing Kotick to move ahead with selling Activision Blizzard. It’s a deal that now looks set to provide him with a nearly $400 million windfall in the sale of company stock.

Won’t someone think of the Bing!? Microsoft laughably accuses Google of monopoly

Salon | Oct 10, 2023

  • Nadella’s main argument, though, hinged on his complaint that Google is still the default search engine used in Apple products. Despite the fact that the whole trial centers on a possible illegal pay-for-play deal between Google and Apple, Nadella openly told the court that Microsoft too was also ready to throw down $15 billion a year if Apple would just choose Bing for its products’ default search engine instead of Google.
  • The withering pleas of Nadella have fallen on deaf ears among those who watched Microsoft gather into a literal monopoly through the early '90s, then fight its way through a losing battle in 1998 as the feds sued it for using a 70% market share to further entrench itself with anti-competitive behavior. The Google antitrust case is the biggest since then.

The Government Can ‘Get It Right’ on AI

POLITICO | Oct 10, 2023

  • Americans want the federal government to step up, and it already has a head start.

Amazon Used Secret ‘Project Nessie’ Algorithm to Raise Prices

The Wall Street Jounral | Oct 03, 2023

  • The strategy, as described in redacted parts of FTC lawsuit, is part of agency’s case that Amazon has outsize influence on consumer prices

Why the U.S. government is suing Amazon

The Washington Post | Oct 03, 2023

  • Is Amazon an illegal monopoly? The Federal Trade Commission is arguing yes — and it’s taking that argument to court. We take a look at what’s behind the FTC’s lawsuit against Amazon and the implications for your everyday online shopping experience.

Microsoft C.E.O. Testifies That Google’s Power in Search Is Ubiquitous

The New York Times | Oct 02, 2023

  • In more than three and a half hours of testimony in federal court in Washington, Mr. Nadella was often direct and sometimes combative as he laid out how Microsoft could not overcome Google’s use of multibillion-dollar deals to be the default search engine on smartphones and web browsers.

How Big Tech is co-opting the rising stars of artificial intelligence

The Washington Post | Oct 02, 2023

  • Cutting-edge AI requires huge amounts of computing power -- a path that leads up-and-coming companies directly to Microsoft, Google and Amazon

FTC Chair Lina Khan's lawsuit isn't about breaking up Amazon, for now

NPR | Sep 28, 2023

  • Lina Khan rose to prominence in law school after she wrote a scholarly article in 2017 arguing for the breakup of Amazon – she compared the tech giant to the oil barons and railroad monopolies of more than a century ago. She's now the chair of the Federal Trade Commission, which is essentially the government's watchdog for corporations.
  • On Tuesday, the FTC brought a massive lawsuit against Amazon alleging it illegally abused its monopoly power to decimate competition.

5 takeaways from America’s landmark lawsuit against Amazon

CNN | Sep 28, 2023

  • A breakup is not off the table. The plaintiffs’ complaint, filed in Seattle federal court, suggests that any court order to address the issue could include “structural relief,” a legal term referring to a potential breakup of Amazon.
  • Khan also left open the possibility that Amazon executives could be held personally liable and added to the case if there is sufficient evidence of their responsibility for Amazon’s alleged misconduct.

US FTC Revives Microsoft-Activision Deal Challenge

Bloomberg | Sep 27, 2023

  • The FTC will move forward with its in-house trial against the acquisition after pausing that process over the summer.
  • “The FTC continues to believe this deal is a threat to competition,” said FTC spokesperson Victoria Graham.

DuckDuckGo CEO says Google kills competition through phone deals that make it hard for users to switch search engines: ‘It’s too many steps’

Fortune | Sep 21, 2023

  • Appearing in the biggest antitrust trial in a quarter century, DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg testified Thursday that it was hard for his small search engine company to compete with Google because the powerhouse has deals with phone companies and equipment manufacturers to make its product the default search option on so many devices.
  • “We hit an obstacle with Google’s contracts,” Weinberg said in U.S. District Court in Washington.

UK regulators likely to decide on Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal next week.

The Verge | Sep 20, 2023

  • The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is expected to issue a preliminary decision on Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal next week, a source familiar with the situation tells The Verge.
  • This preliminary decision will then be followed by a final one, due by October 18th. The UK is the final regulatory hurdle for Microsoft’s giant deal.

Op-ed: FTC’s crackdown against Amazon is necessary for long-term innovation, startup investor argues

CNBC | Sep 19, 2023

  • Startup investor Bradley Tusk says that the FTC and other agencies are doing a service to innovation by cracking down on anticompetitive practices from Amazon and other giants.
  • “If there’s no rule of law, there’s no future market worth betting on,” Tusk writes.

Majority in poll says Big Tech has ‘too much power in the market’

The Hill | Sep 19, 2023

  • Asked to choose between two statements that best fit their view of Big Tech companies, 60 percent said the companies “have too much power in the market, which puts competitors at a disadvantage and hurts both smaller businesses and consumers.”
  • The majority opinion was shared across party lines with 65 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans expressing that view, according to the poll.

Open Markets, Labor, & Civil Society Partners Submit Comment to Strengthen the New Merger Guidelines

Open Markets Institute | Sep 19, 2023

  • The Open Markets Institute and partners including SEIU, Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA), Public Citizen, and more, have submitted a comment urging the Justice Department (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to strengthen and clarify the new, draft merger guidelines.

British business minister rejects Microsoft’s criticism of decision to block Activision Blizzard deal

Reuters | Sep 19, 2023

  • British business minister Kemi Badenoch said on Tuesday she did not agree with Microsoft President Brad Smith that the Competition and Market Authority’s initial decision to block its purchase of video game maker Activision was bad for Britain.

Elizabeth Warren Backs FTC’s Lina Khan in Merger Crackdown

Bloomberg | Sep 19, 2023

  • Senator joins Democrats to support new rules for vetting deals
  • The letter urged the agencies to rapidly adopt the new guidelines and highlighted the need for enforcers to examine a broader range of deals, especially those that are part of a series of acquisitions made by a company within the same market, and to look at the impact on workers.

Rushfield: Why Don't the Legacy Studios Break Off?

The Ankler | Sep 19, 2023

  • As the strike went on, the sense that this was a preposterous alliance only increased as the legacy studios stocks tumbled and the streamers did just fine, growing in fact, throughout all of this. Particularly as the streamer services of Apple and Amazon are minor tributaries of the first and fifth largest companies on earth, respectively, and their stocks barely notice or care we're even having a strike in this remote corner of the empire.

Companies wage PR campaigns against regulators

Axios | Sep 14, 2023

  • Corporate communicators have been successfully punching back at regulators, policymakers and critics through comprehensive messaging campaigns.

Democratic Party's Wall Street Donors Are Reportedly Pushing Biden to Fire Lina Khan

Common Dreams | Sep 11, 2023

  • Financiers are reportedly lobbying the incumbent president to remove the Federal Trade Commission chair if he wins reelection in 2024.

Biden launches effort to take down Google in court

POLITICO | Sep 11, 2023

  • A landmark trial in Washington sets the stage for a wave of anti-monopoly litigation against tech giants.
  • The Biden administration’s push to check the power of the tech giants gets its first big test Tuesday in a Washington courtroom where the Department of Justice will kick off a case designed to curb Google’s dominance in online search.

Game makers seek unions as digital entertainment booms

AFP | Sep 10, 2023

  • Unsung workers who make movie superheroes fly and lightsabers crackle are turning to labor unions as relentless demand for content turns dream jobs into grueling routines.

Zoom Spoke With Regulators on Microsoft Competition Concerns

Bloomberg | Sep 07, 2023

  • Microsoft under scrutiny in EU about Teams software bundling
  • Zoom had been quiet on the issue until CEO spoke out this week

Silicon Valley’s elites can’t be trusted with the future of AI. We must break their dominance–and dangerous god complex

Fortune | Sep 01, 2023

  • Research shows the market dysfunction created by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other large players that dominate e-commerce, advertising, and online information-sharing. Big Tech monopolists are already positioning themselves to dominate AI. The shortage of GPUs and massive lobbying dollars spent requesting expensive regulation that would lock out startups are just two examples of this troubling trend.

Microsoft to stop packaging Teams and Office software in Europe to head off EU antitrust action

ABC News | Aug 31, 2023

  • Microsoft will stop packaging its Teams videoconferencing app with its Office software in Europe in an effort to head off antitrust penalties by regulators

A Former FCC Chairman on Combatting a Digital Gilded Age and Reining In Big Tech

Barron's | Aug 30, 2023

  • Tom Wheeler, a former venture capitalist, entrepreneur, CEO, and Federal Communications Commission chairman, has his own views on tech, anchored in what he sees as parallels between the rise of Big Tech in our time and the excesses of the late 19th century’s Gilded Age. In his coming book—Techlash: Who Makes the Rules in the Digital Gilded Age?—he specifically argues for a new government agency to take a more proactive approach to technology regulation.
  • In his coming book—Techlash: Who Makes the Rules in the Digital Gilded Age?—he specifically argues for a new government agency to take a more proactive approach to technology regulation.

Microsoft, Activision Ruling 'Riddled With Errors,' FTC Says

Law360 | Aug 28, 2023

  • The Federal Trade Commission told the Ninth Circuit that a lower court's ruling refusing to pause Microsoft's $68.7 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard was "riddled with errors," saying questions presented over the merger's likelihood to stifle competition warrant giving the commission a chance to determine the antitrust merits.

Americans Pay a Price for Corporate Consolidation

The New York Times | Aug 26, 2023

  • Across the American economy, in industries ranging from air travel to veterinary medicine, big companies keep getting bigger and more powerful. Swallowing smaller rivals has become a widely accepted practice.
  • This concentration of corporate power, however, is neither inevitable nor desirable for the health of the American economy.

Google and Microsoft Are Supercharging AI Deepfake Porn

Bloomberg | Aug 24, 2023

  • To stay up and running, deepfake creators rely on products and services from Google, Apple, Amazon, CloudFlare and Microsoft

The U.S. Regulates Cars, Radio and TV. When Will It Regulate A.I.?

The New York Times | Aug 24, 2023

  • Congress has tended to be slow to respond to revolutionary technologies.

Microsoft submits new deal for review after CMA confirms original deal is blocked

Competition and Markets Authority | Aug 22, 2023

  • The CMA has opened a new phase 1 investigation into a new, restructured deal by Microsoft to buy Activision.
  • This new investigation will be carried out in line with the CMA’s usual Phase 1 processes and the statutory deadline for a decision is 18 October 2023.

Microsoft’s Mega Merger With Activision Raises Alarms for Consumers and Competition

The Well News | Aug 18, 2023

  • This should be unthinkable at a time when consumers, lawmakers and regulators around the world are concerned about the power of large technology companies. Rampant consolidation and lax regulation have enabled these behemoths to violate consumer privacy, squash competition and dominate emergent technologies from cloud computing to artificial intelligence.
  • Congress, awash in Microsoft donations, has turned a blind eye to the company’s anti-competitive behavior. The European Union, which talks a big game about reining in tech companies, blessed the merger based on flimsy commitments from a company that has been fined by European regulators multiple times for breaking its promises. Will anyone stand up for consumers?

Senators want YouTube investigated over showing targeted ads to kids, again

The Verge | Aug 18, 2023

  • New research from Adalytics raises concerns over whether YouTube is violating child safety laws.

What normal Americans — not AI companies — want for AI

Vox | Aug 17, 2023

  • Public opinion about AI can be summed up in two words: Slow. Down.

Why US tech giants are threatening to quit the UK

BBC | Aug 13, 2023

  • It was difficult to maintain a poker face when the leader of a big US tech firm I was chatting to said there was a definite tipping point at which the firm would exit the UK.
  • Clearly the UK cannot, and should not, be held to ransom by US tech giants. But the services they provide are widely used by millions of people. And rightly or wrongly, there is no UK-based alternative to those services.

Lina Khan: The most feared person in Silicon Valley is a 34-year-old in DC

Yahoo! Finance | Aug 12, 2023

  • Lina Khan is a key architect of an aggressive attempt by Washington to rein in tech giants. Amazon may be next.

Microsoft’s Role in Email Breach to Be Part of Cyber Inquiry

Bloomberg | Aug 10, 2023

  • A US cybersecurity advisory panel will investigate malicious targeting of cloud computing environments, including Microsoft Corp.’s role in a recent breach of government officials’ email accounts by suspected Chinese hackers, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed on Friday.

Lobbying surges around the largest merger in videogame industry history

Open Secrets | Aug 10, 2023

  • Activision Blizzard ramped up its typical lobbying activity this year, hiring a firm that reported lobbying Congress on “gaming competition” last quarter as well as the “adjudication of workforce issues.” The game publisher increased its total number of lobbyists from seven in 2022 to 16 in 2023, and 88% of the lobbyists it hired in 2023 were “revolving door” former federal employees.
  • Microsoft, producer of Xbox gaming consoles and exclusive owner of the Halo series, has lobbied heavily on antitrust and competition issues this year. Microsoft reported spending $4.5 million on federal lobbying in the first six months of 2023, after spending $4.8 million in the last six months of 2022, excluding subsidiary LinkedIn’s lobbying expenditures.

Top regulators defend stricter merger guidelines, call ‘hysteria’ overblown

CNBC | Aug 10, 2023

  • Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter defended new joint guidelines addressing corporate mergers against backlash.

Is Congress Moving Too Slowly on A.I.?

Slate | Aug 06, 2023

  • On Friday’s episode of What Next: TBD, I spoke with Makena Kelly, who covers politics and policy for the Verge, about whether Washington can keep up with A.I. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Lina vs. the Dark Arts: The FTC Wants Big Tech to Know It’s Watching

The Information | Aug 04, 2023

  • The dark pattern concept has been percolating inside the FTC for the last two years, used mostly as a lever to get companies to settle suits brought by the commision. But the regulators now seem emboldened. They are eager to see their burgeoning war against dark patterns validated in court.

UK and EU divide opens up on dealmaking regulation

The Financial Times | Aug 03, 2023

  • The companies threw a tantrum, drawing accusations from Microsoft’s Brad Smith that the country was effectively shooting itself in the foot by “discouraging technology innovation and investment” in the UK.

Microsoft-Activision 'Not Done By Any Means'

Law360 | Aug 01, 2023

  • "I don't see this as done by any means," said Harry First, a professor at the New York University School of Law. copied=1
  • "They certainly can continue the case. They certainly can continue the appeal," said Stephen Calkins, a Wayne State University Law School professor and a former FTC general counsel.copied=1

US Senator Wyden asks FTC, CISA, DOJ to 'take action' against Microsoft following hack

Reuters | Jul 27, 2023

  • Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has asked the Federal Trade Commission, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Justice Department to 'take action' against Microsoft following a China-linked hack that reportedly resulted in the theft of thousands of government emails from top U.S. officials.

UK CMA Chief Rejects Claim of Bowing to Microsoft Pressure

Bloomberg | Jul 21, 2023

  • Microsoft must come forward with new remedies: Sarah Cardell
  • “The remedies that were put forward by Microsoft at the time did not satisfy, did not resolve those concerns,” and the authority’s “prohibition decision stands,” Cardell said. “Now, it is up to Microsoft if they want to come up with a proposal that they think will address those concerns.”

Microsoft-Activision Deal Poised to Close Later Than Planned

Bloomberg | Jul 17, 2023

  • UK regulators vetoed the deal in April amid concerns about its impact on the cloud gaming market. A May 5 order bars the companies from closing the purchase even though it has now received government approvals in 39 countries. The CMA has so far maintained its veto while negotiations continue.
  • A violation of the UK order would lead to fines up to 5% of the companies’ combined global revenue.

Latest suspected China hack puts Microsoft on D.C. hot seat

Axios | Jul 14, 2023

  • Anxiety over Microsoft's cybersecurity strategies is growing in Washington this week as details continue to emerge about the extent of a suspected Chinese espionage campaign.

FTC appeal in Microsoft/Activision case shows US regulator isn’t giving up yet

Ars | Jul 13, 2023

  • The appeal notice, filed with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals late Wednesday, is a rare move for the FTC in cases like this. The FTC is facing down District Court Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley's finding that the regulator "has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition."

FTC Blasted By Congress And Gamers For Doing Its Job

Kotaku | Jul 13, 2023

  • Xbox fans and Republicans attack the regulators trying to stop the Microsoft Activision merger

EU antitrust regulators probe Amazon's $1.7 billion iRobot deal

Axios | Jul 07, 2023

  • The European Commission has opened a full investigation into Amazon's proposed $1.7 billion acquisition of iRobot, the Massachusetts-based maker of Roomba vacuum cleaners.

Game On: Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard is in jeopardy

The Spokesman-Review | Jul 05, 2023

  • Although I’ve been primarily an Xbox gamer since 2006, I’d really prefer if the Activision-Microsoft merger fell through. Microsoft is nicest to its consumers when it struggles, and the company already has a solid headstart on cloud gaming. That said, I also believe the fear of Microsoft forming an early monopoly is somewhat overstated – there was a time when Netflix was the one and only dominant force in streaming movies and shows, and now half a dozen viable competitors exist.
  • But what’s really irksome is Activision-Blizzard. In recent years, the company has seen more than its fair share of drama, culminating with the 2021-22 legal battle between them and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing over alleged sexual misconduct and pay discrimination at its workplace.

Biden administration reportedly plans to curb Chinese companies’ access to Amazon and Microsoft cloud services

Fortune | Jul 04, 2023

  • The US is preparing to curtail Chinese companies’ access to cloud computing services including Amazon.com Inc.’s and Microsoft Corp.’s, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation.
  • Washington is considering requiring cloud providers to seek government permission before serving Chinese firms that employ such platforms to train AI models, the Journal reported.

Exclusive: Microsoft faces EU antitrust probe after remedies fall short, sources say

Reuters | Jul 03, 2023

  • Microsoft is likely to face a European Union antitrust investigation in the coming months after remedy discussions with the EU watchdog to avert such a move appear to have hit a roadblock, people familiar with the matter said.

Microsoft pushes for government regulation of AI. Should we trust it?

Computer World | Jul 03, 2023

  • That’s why Microsoft is pushing so hard for government action — that is, the kind of government action the company wants. Microsoft knows it’s AI gold-rush time, and the company that stakes its claims first will end up the winner. Microsoft has already staked that claim, and now wants to make sure the federal government won’t interfere.
  • Not surprisingly, Microsoft President Brad Smith and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman have become the feds’ go-to tech execs for advice on how to regulate generative AI. That puts Microsoft, which has invested $13 billion in OpenAI, in the driver's seat — it’s a safe bet Altman’s recommendations align with Smith’s.

Factsheet: The FTC is Holding Corporate Actors Accountable, Protecting Small Businesses, Workers, and Consumers

American Economic Liberties Project | Jun 30, 2023

  • The Federal Trade Commission, led by Chair Lina Khan, has entered a new era of more effective, modern, and democratic enforcement to better protect consumers, workers, and independent businesses.
  • While navigating a leadership transition during a pandemic, an historic merger wave, and unprecedented economic dominance driven by rampant concentration, Chair Khan is steering the FTC to protect working families and honest businesses with stronger law enforcement.

Watchdog group calls on judge to recuse in FTC-Microsoft case

The Washington Post | Jun 29, 2023

  • A watchdog group is calling for the recusal of the judge presiding over the Federal Trade Commission’s closely watched bid to block Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal, citing the fact that her son works for the tech giant, according to a letter shared exclusively with The Technology 202.
  • The family connection came up at a prehearing conference June 21, when U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley said her son works at Microsoft outside of its gaming division, as Law360 reported.

Will the Biggest Tech Merger of All Time Go Through?

BIG by Matt Stoller | Jun 28, 2023

  • We're in trench warfare, as Activision CEO Bobby Kotick and Microsoft's Satya Nadella get cross-examined in the Microsoft-Activision merger trial.
  • This case, for a deal that should never have gotten out of the board room, is a good look at the hurdles, and opportunities, in addressing big tech.

Microsoft faces off against US government over Activision deal, with top execs set to testify

CNN | Jun 22, 2023

  • In bringing the case, the Federal Trade Commission is asking a US district court judge for an injunction that would temporarily halt the deal. That would keep the companies from closing their merger, at least until the FTC’s in-house court rules in a separate proceeding on whether the acquisition is anticompetitive.
  • In this hearing, the FTC does not need to prove that the deal is anticompetitive. It just needs to show that the agency would be likely to succeed in doing so if the case moves ahead, and that otherwise its ability to enforce US antitrust law would be harmed.

Activision Shareholders Reject Proposal Asking for Union Support

Bloomberg | Jun 21, 2023

  • Activision Blizzard Inc. shareholders handed management everything it wanted at their annual meeting Wednesday, including rejecting a proposal that the company publicly commit to not interfere with union organizing.

Majority of Microsoft workers would take comparable job offer from rival, survey shows

The New York Post | Jun 21, 2023

  • Microsoft employees are reportedly eyeing the exits in the wake of mass layoffs and other unpopular moves at the tech giant.

Exclusive: OpenAI Lobbied the E.U. to Water Down AI Regulation

TIME | Jun 20, 2023

  • Behind the scenes, OpenAI has lobbied for significant elements of the most comprehensive AI legislation in the world—the E.U.’s AI Act—to be watered down in ways that would reduce the regulatory burden on the company, according to documents about OpenAI’s engagement with E.U. officials obtained by TIME from the European Commission via freedom of information requests.

Congress is racing to regulate AI. Silicon Valley is eager to teach them how.

The Washington Post | Jun 17, 2023

  • Lawmakers are flocking to private meetings, dinners and briefings with AI experts — including CEOs of the companies they’re trying to regulate

China’s Xi tells Bill Gates he’s the ‘first American friend’ he met in Beijing this year

CNBC | Jun 16, 2023

  • In the meeting at Beijing’s Diaoyutai state guesthouse, Xi also told Gates he is the “first American friend” that the Chinese leader has met in Beijing this year.

Britain's antitrust head: competition is key to innovation

Reuters | Jun 16, 2023

  • Without mentioning that deal specifically, the CMA's CEO Sarah Cardell used a speech at a conference at the University of East Anglia on Thursday to argue that competition is key to innovation and promoting Britain's economic growth.
  • "Competitive markets spur firms to operate efficiently, to invest, and to innovate, so that they can maintain and build their market share by providing consumers with better or lower cost products," she said.

Lina Khan Fires a Crooked CEO

BIG by Matt Stoller | Jun 15, 2023

  • The FTC blocked a genomics technology merger, leading to the firing of a CEO. The deal involved Bill Gates, Barack Obama, China and Jeff Bezos. And corporate America is in shock.

Google faces EU break-up order over anti-competitive adtech practices

Reuters | Jun 14, 2023

  • Alphabet's Google may have to sell part of its lucrative adtech business to address concerns about anti-competitive practices, EU regulators said on Wednesday, threatening the company with its harshest regulatory penalty to date.

Microsoft Trying To Control FTC Activision Case Timeline

Law360 | Jun 14, 2023

  • With a looming July 18 deadline baked into their merger agreement, Microsoft Corp. and Activision Blizzard Inc. sought Wednesday to control the timeline on the Federal Trade Commission's newly filed California federal court lawsuit that they said "is the only decision that matters," not an ongoing agency in-house challenge.

Phil Spencer dodges Bobby Kotick question after Activision scandal

GGRECON | Jun 14, 2023

  • As the light shines on Microsoft ahead of its potential acquisition of Activision Blizzard, it seems it's finally time for Phil Spencer to bite the bullet and reveal what he plans to do with the gaming conglomerate's recent scandals. However, the Xbox boss isn't ready to talk shop just yet.

Microsoft-Activision: Mega deal caught in crosshairs of antitrust regulators

Reuters | Jun 14, 2023

  • Microsoft Corp's $69 billion acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard faced another hurdle on Tuesday after a U.S. judge granted a request by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to temporarily block the deal.
  • The acquisition has attracted scrutiny from several antitrust enforcers, including Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), over concerns it would hinder competition in the nascent cloud gaming market.

F.T.C. Sues to Stop Microsoft’s Activision Deal From Closing

The New York Times | Jun 12, 2023

  • The agency had sued to halt the blockbuster deal last year. Its latest move in federal court would prevent the acquisition from being completed.

1 big thing: Two years of Lina Khan at the FTC

Axios | Jun 12, 2023

  • Khan was sworn in to office June 15, 2021, and her term expires in September 2024. She currently enjoys a 3–0 majority at the FTC as Republicans drag their feet on nominees to fill out the agency.
  • The agency is expected to soon issue new merger guidelines in conjunction with the Justice Department, which are expected to inform how companies will evaluate mergers and acquisitions going forward and could change how courts interpret antitrust law.

How Sam Altman Stormed Washington to Set the A.I. Agenda

The New York Times | Jun 07, 2023

  • The chief executive of OpenAI, which makes ChatGPT, has met with at least 100 U.S. lawmakers in recent months. He has also taken his show abroad.

Britain to host first global AI regulation summit in autumn

Financial Times | Jun 07, 2023

  • Rishi Sunak, UK prime minister, will on Thursday announce that Britain will this autumn host the first global summit on the regulation of artificial intelligence, after a meeting in Washington with President Joe Biden.

Union Pressure Forces Activision-Blizzard To Share Details Of Workers’ Union Rights

Gamers Grade | Jun 06, 2023

  • The CWA also had some choice words for the cottony-soft Bobby Kotick interview that Variety farted out last week, saying in a statement that his comments were “bluster” and a deflection of accountability from himself towards workers and media, and while the CWA noted Blizzard and the QA workers union formed in the Albany studio have started to reach tentative labor agreements, the union also says Kotick’s statements risk threatening the process. “What happens next is up to Activision-Blizzard,” the statement closes.

Microsoft Charged $20 Million by FTC Over 'Illegally Collected' Children's Information on Xbox

IGN | Jun 06, 2023

  • Microsoft will pay $20 million in fines after settling a legal dispute with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in which it was found to have breached data protection laws by collecting and holding information on children using Xbox without proper parental consent.
  • Alongside the $20 million fine, the proposed settlement will require Microsoft to implement numerous changes as to how it handles user information and creates player accounts.

CWA rescinds three Unfair Labor Practice charges against Activision Blizzard

Game Developer | Jun 02, 2023

  • The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has withdrawn three Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges it filed against Activision Blizzard because the publisher agreed to post a company-wide notice informing workers of their unionization rights and rescinded disciplinary action that was taken against one employee.
  • The labor union also slammed recent comments made by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

Don't hold your breath for global AI rules

Axios | May 30, 2023

  • It will likely take an AI-related catastrophe before any international rulebook or organization begins regulating AI technologies.

Why Microsoft’s $75 Billion Bid for Activision Blizzard Hinges on Call of Duty

Wall Street Journal | May 29, 2023

  • Regulators worry the videogame franchise is so crucial to attract hard-core gamers it could be used to dominate cloud gaming

Facebook-Giphy sale shows how fear of regulators is slowing M&A market

CNBC | May 26, 2023

  • Earlier this week, Meta sold Giphy to Shutterstock for $53 million, an eye-watering 83% markdown.
  • In the U.S. and abroad, regulatory scrutiny has forced boardrooms and advisors to reassess whether a deal is worth pursuing at all.

Tech layoffs ravage the teams that fight online misinformation and hate speech

CNBC | May 26, 2023

  • Meta, Amazon, Alphabet and Twitter have all drastically reduced the size of their teams focused on internet trust and safety as well as ethics as the companies focus on cost cuts.

Inside the fight for Kickstarter’s union

The Verge | May 23, 2023

  • The crowdfunding company’s organizing effort was divisive but still remains a landmark moment in the tech labor movement.

Microsoft’s Activision Deal Has Split Regulators. That’s Bad News for Big Tech.

Barron's | May 22, 2023

  • The split complicates the prospects for future deals and has the potential of curbing value-adding acquisitions for some of the world’s biggest technology companies.
  • Since the U.K. left the European Union its Competition and Markets Authority now acts as an independent regulator on large mergers. British lawmakers are currently debating legislation that would hand it more power to scrutinize big tech companies.

Microsoft Issues Warning About Chinese AI That Microsoft Helped Create

The Dispatch | May 11, 2023

  • The company’s China outpost has trained scientists who’ve gone on to work for top surveillance companies.
  • Of the many concerned statements about AI technology, Smith’s remarks may win the prize for most ironic—or, to be more precise—hypocritical.

Vertical Mergers Are in the Crosshairs After Microsoft’s Activision Acquisition Was Blocked

Barron's | May 11, 2023

  • The decision is a big deal in its own right, but just as importantly, it represents a broader rethinking of consolidations between firms in a buyer-seller relationship. This reassessment of such vertical mergers goes well beyond the U.K.
  • With the CMA’s decision though, a palpable change is underway. Antitrust authorities appear to be taking vertical consolidation seriously again.

The Global Battle to Regulate AI Is Just Beginning

WIRED | May 08, 2023

  • Europe’s parliament is struggling to agree on new rules to govern AI—showing how policymakers everywhere have a lot to learn about the technology.

Activision Pays Millions, Still Denies Abuse Claims

The Gamer | May 06, 2023

  • Activision has paid out $18 million to workers over some of the allegations of sexism it faced in 2021, but it still denies any wrongdoing.
  • The payment is said to have gone out to hundreds of current and former workers so far, even as Activision denies their claims.

Top Biden antitrust cop sees monopoly power as a threat to democracy

MarketWatch | May 04, 2023

  • 'We don't want corporations who are as powerful as governments making decisions about winners and losers,' says DOJ's Kanter
  • "I believe our merger enforcement has been extraordinarily successful," Kanter said at the Thursday event. "That includes a record number of abandonments of deals, many that have been public, but many more are not public."

Microsoft returns to its brawling global lobbying tactics

POLITICO | May 03, 2023

  • The company was once known as Big Tech’s ‘good guy.’ But it is increasingly taking an antagonistic stance against regulators worldwide.
  • For years, Microsoft has been seen as the adult in the room when it comes to Big Tech excess. But its veneer of responsibility is starting to wear thin.

Why the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard merger is a fight over the future of games

The Guardian | May 03, 2023

  • A UK regulator blocked a $70bn acquisition last week not because of any threat now, but over worries about a future monopoly

UK tech scene raises alarm over block to Microsoft-Activision deal

Financial Times | Apr 28, 2023

  • William Kovacic, former chair of the FTC and previously a non-exec director at the CMA, told the FT ahead of this week’s decision that the CMA was best placed to rule on issues of the magnitude of the Microsoft-Activision deal.
  • Compared to anybody else on the planet, they’ve put themselves in a position to understand what’s going on in this field,” said Kovacic, noting the UK regulator’s investment in engineers, computer scientists and analytics experts to evaluate significant tech takeovers. “They are by far best prepared to do this.

UK’s Cloud Gaming Concerns Rain On Microsoft’s Content Fortress Ambitions

AD Exchanger | Apr 28, 2023

  • Pundits predicted Microsoft would use Xandr to create an ad-supported video game content fortress, with the ad tech business getting exclusive access to Microsoft’s gaming IP. Any ambitions in that direction may now be on hold.
  • Microsoft controls three-fifths of the global cloud gaming market. And with Xbox Cloud Gaming, Windows and Microsoft Azure under one roof, Microsoft can flex anticompetitive advantages over any cloud gaming competitors, according to the CMA.

Microsoft's veiled threats to the UK over Activision reveal a lot

DCD | Apr 28, 2023

  • But in this instance, Britain is not as out of line as Smith claims. Its move wasn't really unexpected, and it was ruling on a different part of the question.
  • In focusing on cloud gaming, the UK regulator took a different tack to the FTC and the EU, which concentrated on fears about competition in the console market. Microsoft made substantive offers on that, guaranteeing that Activision games would be available on rival platforms like Sony Playstation for ten years.

Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard Deal Faces Long Odds After U.K. Regulator Blocks Merger, Analysts Say

The Hollywood Reporter | Apr 26, 2023

  • The acquisition, the largest in Microsoft’s history, may have hit an insurmountable obstacle after a surprise ruling by the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority.

Xbox ‘set to attend Downing Street event’ on UK Activision deal deadline day

VGC | Apr 20, 2023

  • Microsoft is reportedly set to participate in a games industry event at 10 Downing Street on the same day as the UK’s competition regulator could rule on its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

FTC Explains Why It Joined Sony in Opposing Microsoft's Activision Blizzard Acquisition

GameRant | Apr 20, 2023

  • The FTC chair responds to a Congressional question about why the agency 'sided with Sony' in opposing Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition.

Microsoft's Bid To Buy Games Giant Faces Triple Anti-trust Threat

Barron's | Apr 15, 2023

  • Depending on which side you're on, tech giant Microsoft is either the hero fighting to bring some of the most popular video games to more people, or the villain on the brink of killing competition in the sector.

‘Gamers’ Lawsuit’ returns for another swing at Microsoft/Activision sale

Destructoid | Apr 14, 2023

  • A legal challenge, issued by a party of video game fans against the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft, has returned to cause more headaches for the publishers concerned

Microsoft is promoting its Activision Blizzard acquisition on the London Underground

VGC | Apr 13, 2023

  • Microsoft has been trying to reassure regulators – such as the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the US’s Federal Trade Commission – that it won’t make Activision Blizzard games (most notably Call of Duty) exclusive to its own cloud gaming service, should the deal be approved.

South Korea Fines Google $32 Million for Squeezing Out Local Rival

The Wall Street Journal | Apr 11, 2023

  • South Korea fined Google the equivalent of about $32 million for abusing its global market dominance to thwart a local rival, in the latest regulatory challenge to the U.S. technology giant’s control over the mobile app ecosystem.

Video gamers renew legal challenge to Microsoft's Activision bid after setback

Reuters | Apr 11, 2023

  • The new 73-page lawsuit contained redacted assertions derived from Microsoft internal documents, including a strategy memo and other business reports that were "provided directly to the board of directors."

Meta paid gamers salary packages approaching $1 million. Facebook’s owner is now in financial trouble.

The Washington Post | Apr 07, 2023

  • Developers’ high pay is just a sliver of the company’s multibillion-dollar metaverse investment
  • But Meta’s high salaries and long-term investment in the metaverse also comes amid a frenzied push to rein in costs across the sprawling company. 

Microsoft coughs up some change after allegedly selling software to no-no companies

The Register | Apr 07, 2023

  • Microsoft will pay more than $3.3 million to settle allegations it busted US sanctions by selling software and services to blacklisted companies and individuals in Russia, Iran, and other countries.
  • (That figure is about 25 minutes of quarterly profit for Microsoft; it banked $17.4 billion in net income in just the final three months of 2022.)

Live Music Is Roaring Back. But Fans Are Reeling From Sticker Shock.

The New York Times | Apr 07, 2023

  • Buying concert tickets has become a mess of high prices and surcharges, anxiety-inducing registrations and pervasive scalping as some of pop’s biggest acts hit the road again.
  • This year, the American Economic Liberties Project, as part of an activist group calling itself the Break Up Ticketmaster Coalition, said its research showed that fees added an average of 32 percent.

These Tech Workers Say They Were Hired to Do Nothing

The Wall Street Journal | Apr 07, 2023

  • Amid layoffs, former workers in tech are venting about jobs with little to do; ‘hoarding us like Pokémon cards’

Sony calls UK regulator’s reversed stance on the Microsoft Activision deal ‘surprising and irrational’

VG | Apr 06, 2023

  • Sony has criticised the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on its revised appraisal of Microsoft‘s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

Ofcom proposes to refer UK cloud market for investigation

Ofcom | Apr 05, 2023

  • Ofcom market study uncovers practices and features that could limit competition
  • If left unchecked, competition could deteriorate further in a critical digital market for the UK economy

Video game industry is so profitable it's recession-proof. It's also highly toxic

Euro News | Apr 05, 2023

  • The video game industry has famously produced countless products like Pokémon, World Of Warcraft, and Call Of Duty that are beloved by all gamers. But they’ve also been notorious for failed game launches, sexual harassment, excessive forced overtime, aka "crunch", and employee burnout.

Gamers Don't Win With Microsoft's Acti-Blizz Merger

DuelSHOCKERS | Apr 01, 2023

  • Even if these games go on Game Pass, the power centralized between these two particularly egregious parties could very well lead to even those games on the service having perhaps some of the most audacious monetization we've seen in games yet — especially with how much competition would diminish.
  • Microsoft expanding their studio collection will have huge effects on the industry, likely for the worse.

Activision threatened, spied on workers amid union drive, U.S. agency says

Reuters | Mar 31, 2023

  • Activision Blizzard Inc violated U.S. labor law by illegally surveilling employees during a walkout and threatening to shut down internal chat channels as a union sought to organize its workers, a federal labor agency said on Friday.

The US government is gearing up for an AI antitrust fight

The Verge | Mar 28, 2023

  • We need to be very vigilant to make sure that this is not just another site for the big companies becoming bigger.’
  • The US Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s antitrust division say they’ll scrutinize the new field of artificial intelligence-powered tools for signs of anti-competitive behavior.

Big Tech's big downgrade

Insider | Mar 27, 2023

  • Google, Amazon, and Meta are making their core products worse — on purpose
  • All of these miserable online experiences are symptoms of an insidious underlying disease: In Silicon Valley, the user's experience has become subordinate to the company's stock price.

ChatGPT Opened a New Era in Search. Microsoft Could Ruin It

WIRED | Mar 27, 2023

  • Startups say Microsoft and its Bing chatbot—not just Google—are stifling competition when it comes to creating better search engines.

Google defends auto-deletion of chats after US alleged it destroyed evidence

Ars | Mar 21, 2023

  • Despite deleted chats, Google says US wasn't denied access to "material" info.
  • The US government and 21 states last month asked a court to sanction Google for allegedly using the auto-delete function on chats to destroy evidence and accused Google of falsely telling the government that it suspended its auto-deletion practices on chats subject to a legal hold.

The case for slowing down AI

Vox | Mar 20, 2023

  • Pumping the brakes on artificial intelligence could be the best thing we ever do for humanity.

FTC Says Microsoft Withholding Activision Access Talk Docs

Law360 | Mar 15, 2023

  • Staffers on Tuesday asked an agency in-house judge to force Microsoft and Activision Blizzard to turn over documents the FTC says they're improperly withholding from a challenge to their planned $68.7 billion merger, including negotiations with third parties to guarantee game access that the FTC says the deal threatens.

Advocates urge U.S. not to offer ‘Big-Tech-favored terms’ in trade talks

The Washington Post | Mar 15, 2023

  • Advocates urge U.S. not to offer ‘Big-Tech-favored terms’ in trade talks

Microsoft just laid off one of its responsible AI teams

Platformer | Mar 13, 2023

  • As the company accelerates its push into AI products, the ethics and society team is gone

Is the ‘Labor Foothold’ in the Video Game Industry a Mirage?

The Well News | Mar 08, 2023

  • If Microsoft is serious about its commitment to “creating the best workplaces we can for people who make a living in the tech sector,” as its ad suggests, more needs to be done. The current union covers only 0.25% of Microsoft’s U.S. workforce.
  • While the ZeniMax efforts were more efficient and less contentious than the typical run-up to a labor board election, they are not the norm in the video game industry — that title is held by video game developer Activision Blizzard and its CEO Bobby Kotick. And the increasing economic uncertainty is only going to make that worse.

Activision Blizzard Exec Slammed For Mocking Sony

GG Recon | Feb 23, 2023

  • If you thought a multi-billion-pound merger was going to be conducted with grace and decorum, you were sadly mistaken.

Did Microsoft do enough to convince Europe to let them buy Activision Blizzard? | Opinion

GamesIndustry.biz | Feb 22, 2023

  • Microsoft came across as coherent and measured in its presentation. Brad Smith could clearly have been a politician if he didn’t decide to take this more lucrative career path. Where I feel things weren’t so coherent and measured, however, comes in the form of Activision Blizzard.
  • Whereas Smith was respectful of Sony and praiseworthy of the European Commission, Activision Blizzard’s statement was not. And just hours after the hearing, EVP Corporate Affairs and CCO Lulu Cheng Meservey tweeted this meme.

FTC Launches New Office to Keep Pace With Big Tech

CNET | Feb 17, 2023

  • The office is meant to help the Federal Trade Commission "fully grasp" technologies as it takes on unlawful business practices.

Microsoft’s Activision Deal Tests a New Global Alignment on Antitrust

The New York Times | Feb 06, 2023

  • Until recently, antitrust regulators in Europe and the United States took different approaches. Now, they’re on the same page — which some experts say makes closing deals harder.
  • Microsoft’s legal team also expects the antitrust authority in Britain to oppose the transaction, while it believes the European Commission is open to potential remedies, according to four people briefed on the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Activision Blizzard to pay $35M fine in SEC settlement

Polygon | Feb 03, 2023

  • Penalty for violating whistleblower protection and investor disclosure laws
  • Unlike the Civil Rights Department and EEOC investigations, the SEC probe was not focused on sexual harassment or workplace misconduct itself. Instead, it was about how Activision Blizzard collects, analyzes, and discloses reports of those issues, and about the company’s separation agreements.

How ‘crunch’ time and low pay are fueling a union drive among video game workers

The Los Angeles Times | Jan 31, 2023

  • Amid complaints about crunch times, claims of discrimination and calls for fair and transparent pay, more video game workers are seeking to unionize.
  • Some 3.6 billion people are expected to play video games globally by 2025. Yet some workers feel they aren’t seeing their share of the industry’s growth.

Microsoft set to face EU antitrust probe over video calls

POLITICO | Jan 25, 2023

  • Software giant back in EU sights over its Teams video and messaging service.
  • European Union antitrust enforcers are planning to open an antitrust probe into Microsoft over its video and messaging service Teams, four people familiar with the matter told POLITICO.

Unionization efforts have reached a new industry

The New York Times | Jan 24, 2023

  • And similar to the types of abuses and tragedies in Hollywood or the N.F.L. that reverberate beyond fans of movies and sports, the game industry has also faced accusations of brutal work conditions, discrimination and harassment.
  • The conditions have prompted more workers to move to unionize. This month, Microsoft recognized its first union after video game testers organized.

What’s happening with Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard

Polygon | Jan 24, 2023

  • There’s a steady drip of news as the tech giant tries to clear its huge deal — here’s what’s new

Microsoft loses bid to pause gamers' lawsuit over Activision deal

Reuters | Jan 20, 2023

  • A U.S. judge in California on Thursday turned down Microsoft Corp's bid to freeze a private consumer antitrust lawsuit over the company's $69 billion deal to acquire "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard Inc while a related regulatory challenge to the deal plays out.

Microsoft-Activision Deal Reportedly Faces Yet Another Major Hurdle

Gamespot | Jan 17, 2023

  • A new report suggests that Microsoft will receive an antitrust warning from the EU, presenting yet another snag in the deal.

Microsoft faces EU antitrust warning over Activision deal - sources

Reuters | Jan 16, 2023

  • The European Commission is readying a charge sheet known as a statement of objections setting out its concerns about the deal which will be sent to Microsoft in the coming weeks, the people said.

Elizabeth Warren Backs Proletariat Devs Amidst Alleged Union Busting From Parent Company, Activision Blizzard

The Gamer | Jan 13, 2023

  • US senator Elizabeth Warren has voiced her support for workers at Proletariat, a US game developer recently acquired by Activision Blizzard. This comes as management at both companies is accused of union busting, as they refuse to voluntarily recognise the employees' organisation efforts.

Big Tech unlikely to face major US legislation in 2023, but EU threats loom

S&P Global | Jan 12, 2023

  • After successfully lobbying against two federal antitrust bills that stalled in the U.S. last year, Big Tech companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and Meta Platforms Inc. are turning their attention to potential regulatory threats in Europe in 2023.

Microsoft Runs Pro-Union Ad Amidst Activision Blizzard Acquisition

| Jan 08, 2023

  • Contrary to the company initially calling the FTC's actions "unconstitutional", the ad commends the commision and invites it to look into any possible instances of anti-competition brought about via the acquisition.

World of Warcraft support studio to form third union under Activision Blizzard

Polygon | Jan 06, 2023

  • Proletariat’s union will include all non-management workers

Exclusive: Microsoft, Activision back off aggressive claim in FTC case

Axios | Jan 05, 2023

  • Microsoft says it made a mistake last month when it claimed that the very structure of Federal Trade Commission, the agency trying to block its bid for Activision Blizzard, violates the United States Constitution.

Tech giants face alternate universes across the Atlantic

Axios | Jan 05, 2023

  • New fines levied by European regulators against Meta and Apple are the latest reminder that Big Tech companies must now maneuver between two wildly different regimes in the U.S. and the EU.

Video Game Workers Get a Union Foothold at Microsoft

The New York Times | Jan 03, 2023

  • The outcome, involving about 300 employees, is one of organized labor’s biggest victories at a major U.S. tech company.
  • In a further sign that unionization is gaining traction across the gaming industry, workers at a Boston studio owned by Activision announced last week that they had filed a petition to hold a union election.

No 'substantive' settlement talks between U.S. FTC, Microsoft over Activision

Reuters | Jan 03, 2023

  • There are no "substantive" settlement discussions under way between the Biden administration and Microsoft to resolve a legal dispute over the Xbox maker's $69 billion bid for games maker Activision Blizzard Inc, a Federal Trade Commission attorney said on Tuesday.

Deal-Making Thrived, Then Hit a Road Bump

The New York Times | Dec 30, 2022

  • Government regulators have taken a tougher line against big deals, particularly in the United States. Both Lina Khan of the Federal Trade Commission and Jonathan Kanter at the Justice Department’s antitrust division have sought to widen the grounds on which they could challenge transactions — even if they lose some cases along the way.
  • That shift in philosophy led the F.T.C. to sue to block Microsoft’s takeover of Activision.

Activision's Boston studio workers announce unionization

Reuters | Dec 28, 2022

  • A majority of workers at videogame publisher Activision Blizzard Inc's recently acquired studio Proletariat said on Tuesday that they are forming a union with the Communications Workers of America.

Gamers Are Suing Microsoft To Thwart Its Merger With Activision

Kotaku | Dec 20, 2022

  • The FTC isn’t the only one saying, 'hang on a minute, there'
  • The complaint, filed today and obtained by Kotaku, states that the plaintiffs, or “video gamers” as they’re described, are concerned that “the [Microsoft and Activision] merger may substantially lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly

Big Tech Divided and Conquered to Block Key Bipartisan Bills

Bloomberg | Dec 20, 2022

  • Internet giants waged an epic campaign to squash the first major effort to regulate them in decades.

Epic Games to Pay $520 Million Over Children’s Privacy and Trickery Charges

The New York Times | Dec 19, 2022

  • The creator of Fortnite and other popular games violated children’s privacy and duped millions of users into unwanted purchases, federal regulators said.

FTC’s Tussle With Microsoft Puts Spotlight on Cloud Gaming

The Wall Street Journal | Dec 11, 2022

  • Netflix-like videogaming services are expected to become more influential, industry participants say
  • The FTC and videogame industry participants anticipate cloud gaming will become a much larger part of the market in years to come. With its lawsuit, the FTC says it is protecting the videogame-distribution market—as it is today and how it is expected to evolve—from being dominated by a few companies.

FTC Seeks to Block Microsoft Corp.’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Inc.

FTC Press Release | Dec 08, 2022

  • Agency alleges that maker of Xbox would gain control of top video game franchises, enabling it to harm competition in high-performance gaming consoles and subscription services by denying or degrading rivals’ access to its popular content
  • “Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,” said Holly Vedova, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”

Advocates Applaud as FTC Sues to Stop Microsoft-Activision Mega-Merger

Common Dreams | Dec 08, 2022

  • Biden's FTC, said one consumer campaigner, "is showing, once again, that it is serious about enforcing the law, reversing corporate concentration, and taking on the tough cases."

FTC To Test Meta's Future Reality In VR Merger Fight

Law360 | Dec 06, 2022

  • The Federal Trade Commission is set Thursday to kick off the biggest courtroom test yet of its Biden-era efforts to ramp up antitrust enforcement as the agency tries to convince a California federal judge to temporarily block Meta's proposed purchase of virtual reality app developer Within Unlimited.
  • The FTC's case is all about potential: the potential of Facebook successor Meta Platforms Inc. to develop its own VR fitness apps and the potential of the merger to squash that possibility.

How Will Gamers and Investors Respond to Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard?

Harvard Business Review | Nov 29, 2022

  • The acquisition was announced as Activision Blizzard faced gender pay disparity and sexual harassment allegations
  • That opened Microsoft up to potential reputational damage, employee turnover, and lost sales.

Microsoft, Activision-Blizzard and the future of gaming

The Economist | Nov 29, 2022

  • Gaming’s ballooning value is attracting the attention of regulators.
  • The shift towards subscriptions and streaming complicates a giant merger.

Exclusive: Microsoft likely to offer EU concessions soon in Activision deal

Reuters | Nov 28, 2022

  • Microsoft will likely offer remedies to EU antitrust regulators in the coming weeks to stave off formal objections to its $69 billion bid for "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard, people familiar with the matter said.

Activision Sinks on Concern US Will Block Microsoft’s $69 Billion Deal

Bloomberg | Nov 25, 2022

  • Video-game maker falls on report FTC likely to block deal.
  • Market pricing in 40% odds of deal successfully closing: Cowen

Microsoft’s Activision Deal Hangs on Long-Shot FTC Accord Team Biden Hates

Bloomberg | Nov 25, 2022

  • Biden FTC blocked similar deals over proposed behavioral fixes.
  • Antitrust officials concerned about impact on cloud gaming.

Feds likely to challenge Microsoft’s $69 billion Activision takeover

Politico | Nov 23, 2022

  • A lawsuit would be the FTC’s biggest merger challenge to date under Chair Lina Khan.
  • It would also be a major black mark for Microsoft.

Activision Blizzard Microsoft deal struck at ‘bargain’ price to protect ATVI CEO, claims Swedish pension fund lawsuit

Capital.com | Nov 22, 2022

  • Bobby Kotick (pictured) is accused in a lawsuit of encouraging a ‘frat house’ culture at ATVI.

Can Big Tech Get Bigger? Microsoft Presses Governments to Say Yes.

The New York Times | Nov 21, 2022

  • Microsoft’s $69 billion deal for Activision Blizzard, which is undergoing reviews in 16 countries, has become a test for whether tech giants can buy companies amid a backlash.

Epic alleges Google paid $360 million to keep Activision from launching its own app store

The Verge | Nov 18, 2022

  • New filings in Epic’s lawsuit against Google reveal that at least one point in time, Activision and Riot were considering making their own mobile app stores.

Taylor Swift ticket snafu caused by Ticketmaster abusing its market power, Senate antitrust chair says

CNN | Nov 17, 2022

  • Senator Amy Klobuchar criticized Ticketmaster in an open letter to its CEO, saying she has “serious concerns” about the company’s operations following a service meltdown Tuesday that left Taylor Swift fans irate.

Could Call of Duty doom the Activision Blizzard deal?

Protocol | Nov 14, 2022

  • For Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition, the fate of Call of Duty is starting to look less like a bargaining chip and more like a deal breaker.
  • The CMA is focusing on three key areas: the console market, the game subscription market, and the cloud gaming market.

FTC’s Competition Policy Shift Paves Enforcement ‘Shortcuts’

Bloomberg Law | Nov 11, 2022

  • The Federal Trade Commission is shedding some policy restraints, eager to evolve with the fast-changing economy.

EU’s Call of Duty: Probe Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal

AP | Nov 08, 2022

  • The European Union has launched an investigation into Microsoft’s planned takeover of video game giant Activision Blizzard

EU opens investigation into Microsoft, Activision Blizzard merger

The Washington Post | Nov 08, 2022

  • A preliminary inquiry raised concerns around the deal reducing competition in the video game and console distribution markets

Dozens of U.S. states back FTC challenge to Meta's Within deal

Reuters | Nov 08, 2022

  • Some states on brief pursuing other antitrust cases against Meta, Google.
  • Meta said there is "vibrant competition" in virtual reality market.

Activision insiders fret $69B Microsoft merger could fall apart

New York Post | Nov 06, 2022

  • Some insiders at the game studio behind “Call of Duty” are worried that the Xbox maker could effectively blow up the deal

Activision Nickel-And-Dimes New Union As Call Of Duty Enjoys $800 Million Weekend

Kotaku | Nov 03, 2022

  • Activision refused to pay on-the-clock employees for any time spent in negotiations.

Activision's New Union Says The Company Deferred Discussion On Employee Reproductive Healthcare

The Gamer | Nov 03, 2022

  • Activision also refused to implement remote work options or pay for the union’s missed raises.

Activision Blizzard and CWA Spar Over Union Election, 'Silenced Employees' Accusations

IGN | Nov 02, 2022

  • The latest flashpoint in the effort to unionize within Activision Blizzard.

EU to launch advanced Microsoft-Activision probe

POLITICO | Oct 31, 2022

  • US tech giant opts not to file remedies to Brussels’ antitrust enforcers.
  • Deadline of November 8 to formally announce intention to launch a so-called Phase 2 investigation.

FTC Chair Lina Khan's Big Tech agenda runs short on time

S&P Global | Oct 27, 2022

  • With midterm elections looming and less than 24 months before her term expires, Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan still has time to realize parts of her agenda to rein in Big Tech.

Microsoft and Sony in corporate battle over Call of Duty access

CBS News | Oct 27, 2022

  • Call of Duty is at the center of a corporate tug-of-war between Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation over Microsoft's pending $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard.

One of the biggest tech acquisitions is under regulatory review

The Washington Post | Oct 26, 2022

  • Last year, California’s Civil Rights Department (formerly known as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing) sued the company for gender-based discrimination, inequality and harassment.
  • Several executives at the company departed after the suit was filed. Activision attempted to have the suit thrown out, but a court of appeal denied its request Friday.

Antitrust Law Is Big Tech’s M&A Kryptonite – or Is It?

The Wrap | Oct 25, 2022

  • The antitrust threat “is very real,” according to Moelis & Co. banker Carlos Jimenez.

How a Microsoft Antitrust Attorney Keeps Its Mega-Acquisitions From Getting Killed

The Information | Oct 21, 2022

  • Rima Alaily’s main job is to help close mergers at one of the world’s most acquisitive companies by shepherding them through sometimes sticky antitrust reviews

Texas AG sues Google over facial and voice data collection

CNBC | Oct 20, 2022

  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Google for allegedly breaking the state’s biometric data law by failing to get adequate user consent to collect and use voice and face information from millions of Texas consumers.
  • The complaint underscores the role of individual states in protecting users’ information on the internet in the absence of a federal privacy law.

Activision's Newest Exec Has Decided To Post Through It

Kotaku | Oct 20, 2022

  • After being accused of union busting in the Call of Duty company’s Slack, Lulu Cheng Meservey doubles down.

Meta refuses to give up on campaign to disqualify FTC chair

Reuters | Oct 20, 2022

  • Meta Platforms Inc has almost no chance of barring the chair of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan, from participation in the FTC’s challenge to Meta's planned acquisition of virtual reality content developer Within Unlimited Inc.

Meta's Giphy loss sets new antitrust precedent

Axios | Oct 19, 2022

  • Meta's agreement to sell Giphy under orders from U.K. regulators marks the first time the social networking giant has been forced to unwind an acquisition — and widens the horizon for global regulatory efforts to rein in Big Tech companies.

EU Antitrust Officials Are Worried About Competition in the Metaverse

CoinDesk | Oct 19, 2022

  • The European Commission is concerned that a company like Facebook parent Meta Platforms could dominate the market, hurting consumers.

The Logic of a Microsoft-Netflix Deal Is Growing

The Information | Oct 19, 2022

  • For Microsoft, which is always on the lookout for ways to sign up companies for its Azure cloud business, Netflix would be the ultimate get.

Exclusive: Trust in tech erodes along partisan, economic lines

Axios | Oct 19, 2022

  • Trust in tech overall has declined 24 points during the past decade in the U.S., losing ground across all demographics.

Blizzard Albany, formerly Vicarious Visions, gets union vote greenlight

The Washington Post | Oct 19, 2022

  • The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that a group of 21 quality assurance testers at Blizzard Albany, formerly Vicarious Visions, could vote in a union election.

Could Call of Duty doom the Activision Blizzard deal?

Protocol Entertainment | Oct 14, 2022

  • For Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition, the fate of Call of Duty is starting to look less like a bargaining chip and more like a deal breaker.
  • The CMA is focusing on three key areas: the console market, the game subscription market, and the cloud gaming market.

How Democrats' big plans for Big Tech shrank to tiny steps

Axios | Oct 14, 2022

  • Democrats talked a big game about reining in Big Tech, but after nearly two years of controlling the agenda in Washington, they've got little to show for it.
  • That leaves little time for tech policy bills, even those with some bipartisan support, such as antitrust and privacy measures.

Activision Blizzard Hit With Another Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Glitched | Oct 14, 2022

  • Just when things were settling down, the company has been hit with another lawsuit. This time, the case revolves around the sexual battery, failure to prevent harassment, gender discrimination and the intent to inflict emotional distress.

New Activision Lawsuit Makes Revenge Porn, Sexual Harassment Allegations

Kotaku | Oct 12, 2022

  • The suit targets both the publisher and the plaintiff's former manager
  • Ms. Doe’s complaint is calling for a full jury trial of both accused, and is ultimately seeking damages, legal fees, lost earnings and medical costs.

Trustbusters’ metaverse gambit

Reuters | Oct 10, 2022

  • Mark Zuckerberg isn’t the only one making risky gambits in the metaverse. On Friday, trustbusters at the Federal Trade Commission pared back their arguments against Meta.Platforms’ acquisition of virtual reality app maker Within.

EU regulators surveying developer concerns over Microsoft Activision merger

Games Industry.biz | Oct 07, 2022

  • Preliminary decision expected by November 8, followed by four-month investigation.
  • It's expected that the European Commission will begin a four-month long investigation into the deal, in line with reports from last month.

N.L.R.B. Rules Activision Withheld Raises Because of Union Activity

The New York Times | Oct 03, 2022

  • The embattled video game company is in union negotiations with workers at its subsidiary Raven Software.
  • The National Labor Relations Board said on Monday that Activision Blizzard had withheld raises from workers because of their union activity.

Microsoft's Path to Acquiring Blizzard Facing Global Roadblocks

LA Weekly | Sep 25, 2022

  • The Xbox manufacturer is now part of an international investigation that will determine if the convergence of the two iconic developers would result in less competition in the cloud, console and gaming storefront markets.

Netflix and Microsoft: A match made for gaming?

American Economic Liberties Project | Sep 15, 2022

  • Netflix and Microsoft are believed to be cooking up a cloud gaming empire — an extension of their ad serving partnership. Gaming and advertising experts discuss the motivations and potential opportunities for brands.