Morning Consult Tech: Justice Department Files Antitrust Suit Against Google



Top Stories

  • The Justice Department, with the support from 11 state attorneys general, filed its long-awaited federal antitrust complaint against Google, with a focus on the company’s search services and search advertising businesses. Google has called the case, which focuses heavily on the Alphabet Inc. unit’s exclusionary contracts with browser and mobile phone carriers, “deeply flawed,” while Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen told reporters that this lawsuit is a “milestone, but not a stopping point” for the department’s investigations into Big Tech’s power. (Morning Consult)
  • Seven other state attorneys general — representing New York, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah — could also file a separate antitrust complaint against Google, New York Attorney General Letitia James said. The states said their own investigation is ongoing and parts of it are expected to conclude in “the coming weeks.” (Reuters)
  • Senior Trump administration officials, including those in the Pentagon, said they’re concerned that the White House is pressuring to push through a no-bid contract for Rivada Networks to lease 350 megahertz of the Defense Department’s mid-band spectrum for a 5G network. Karl Rove, a Fox News commentator who lobbies for Rivada, has been encouraging President Donald Trump to pursue the contract, according to sources familiar with the matter, though Rove told CNN that the company would turn down a no-bid contract if it were offered. (CNN)
  • Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told employees at an all-hands meeting last week that the company has been making a slew of content policy changes — including cracking down on Holocaust denial, QAnon’s conspiracy theories and right-wing extremist groups — in preparation for next month’s U.S. presidential election and that he doesn’t expect the company to “adopt a lot more policies that are restricting of a lot more content” following the event, according to an obtained audio recording of the meeting. Zuckerberg also said that the new measures don’t “reflect a shift in our underlying philosophy or strong support of free expression.” (BuzzFeed News)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

10/21/2020
WSJ Tech Live – virtual
Business Insider’s Global Trends Festival
EmTech 2020 – virtual
Tech Policy Institute’s annual conference – virtual
CyberScoop’s CyberTalks 2020 – virtual
6G Symposium – virtual
Filecoin Liftoff Week – virtual
Aspen Tech Policy Hub COVID Challenge Grant Demo Day: Informing COVID Response & Communication through Tech 9:00 am
Cyberspace Solarium Commission Digital Event #11: Securing the U.S. High-Tech Supply Chain 12:00 pm
The Information’s live virtual conversation about SPACs and IPOs 12:00 pm
American Economic Liberties Project’s virtual event on the Big Tech antitrust strategy moving forward feat. Rep. Cicilline (D-RI) and FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra 1:30 pm
NTIA’s monthly BroadbandUSA webinar 2:00 pm
10/22/2020
CyberScoop’s CyberTalks 2020 – virtual
Business Insider’s Global Trends Festival
EmTech 2020 – virtual
Tech Policy Institute’s annual conference – virtual
6G Symposium – virtual
Filecoin Liftoff Week – virtual
FedScoop’s Trusted Internet Connections virtual program 9:00 am
FP Virtual Dialogue: Bridging the Digital Divide 11:00 am
The Information’s virtual event on the future of audio in social media 11:00 am
NTIA virtual meeting for the multistakeholder process on promoting software component transparency 12:00 pm
2020 Forbes CMO Summit Virtual Series – Episode 2 1:00 pm
The Information’s virtual roundtable discussion on scaling engineering teams 1:00 pm
Fast Company’s “tech for growth” webinar 3:00 pm
10/23/2020
CyberScoop’s CyberTalks 2020 – virtual
Business Insider’s Global Trends Festival
Tech Policy Institute’s annual conference – virtual
Filecoin Liftoff Week – virtual
View full calendar


New Report – Great Expectations: The Evolving Role of Companies in a Post-Election World

The 2020 election, already being termed “the most important presidential election in American history,” has significant potential to reshape how corporate America and brands interact with politics.

A new report from Morning Consult takes a deep-dive into Americans’ changing expectations around brands’ engagement with politics, and the issues consumers care most about as they relate to corporate social responsibility and political activism. Download the report.

General

Uber Weighs California Overhaul if Ballot Measure on Workers Fails
Preetika Rana, The Wall Street Journal

Uber Technologies Inc. is considering an overhaul of its business in California if voters reject a ballot measure that would prevent the ride-hailing company’s drivers from being classified as employees. “We are looking at all our options,” Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said, without elaborating, during The Wall Street Journal’s annual Tech Live conference, held remotely on Tuesday.

In a leaked memo, Google CEO Sundar Pichai calls for employees to keep their focus amid a new antitrust lawsuit: ‘Keep doing what you’re doing’
Hugh Langley, Business Insider Premium

The Department of Justice has hit Google with a lawsuit that accuses the company of abusing its monopoly to give itself an unfair advantage in search and advertising. It’s the largest legal case Google has ever faced and has the potential to be dragged through the courts for years.

Google Antitrust Fight Thrusts Low-Key C.E.O. Into the Line of Fire
Daisuke Wakabayashi, The New York Times

When Sundar Pichai succeeded Larry Page as the head of Google’s parent company in December, he was handed a bag of problems: Shareholders had sued the company, Alphabet, over big financial packages handed to executives accused of misconduct. An admired office culture was fraying. Most of all, antitrust regulators were circling.

Silicon Valley megadonors unleash a last-minute, $100 million barrage of ads against Trump
Theodore Schleifer, Recode

A little-known Democratic super PAC backed by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest donors is quietly unleashing a torrent of television spending in the final weeks of the presidential campaign in a last-minute attempt to oust President Donald Trump, Recode has learned.

A shadowy AI service has transformed thousands of women’s photos into fake nudes: ‘Make fantasy a reality’
Drew Harwell, The Washington Post 

An artificial intelligence service freely available on the Web has been used to transform more than 100,000 women’s images into nude photos without the women’s knowledge or consent, triggering fears of a new wave of damaging “deepfakes” that could be used for harassment or blackmail. Users of the automated service can anonymously submit a photo of a clothed woman and receive an altered version with the clothing removed.

DOD to move 18M biometric records on ‘threat actors’ to AWS’s cloud
Jackson Barnett, FedScoop

The Department of Defense wants to modernize an 18-million-record system of biometric data on adversaries by moving it to Amazon Web Service‘s cloud, the department indicated in a request for information posted Tuesday. The Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) is already partly cloud-based, with backups hosted on AWS servers.

Amazon to Let Employees Work From Home Through June 2021
Spencer Soper, Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc. will let corporate employees work from home through June 2021, the latest company to push back re-opening offices as Covid-19 cases surge again across the U.S. “We continue to prioritize the health of our employees and follow local government guidance,” an Amazon spokeswoman said in an email.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

How the states fit into DOJ’s antitrust case against Google
Ashley Gold, Axios

When the Justice Department filed its antitrust lawsuit against Google on Tuesday, it did so without the backing of most of the state attorneys general who have also been probing the search giant. Yes, but: Those states may well swoop in later to expand the case to cover even more competition concerns.

DOJ’s Google suit meets bipartisan praise, but questions arise on its motives
Cristiano Lima, Politico

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum lauded the Justice Department for hitting Google with a major antitrust lawsuit on Tuesday, showcasing the broad bipartisan concern in Washington over the power the tech giant wields online. But scrutiny is already mounting of the Trump administration’s decision to move ahead with the legal maneuver ahead of the November election amid a broader onslaught by President Donald Trump and his Republican allies against Silicon Valley.

7 lawyers helping Google fight landmark antitrust charges in a battle that could stretch on for years, from in-house pros to DOJ veterans
Jack Newsham, Business Insider Premium

After years of scrutiny, the US Department of Justice and more than a dozen state attorneys general sued Google on Tuesday over its dominance of web search and related advertising. Twenty-seven attorneys for the federal government signed the complaint, reflecting the breadth of the investigative and prosecutorial resources that have been poured into the probe.

U.S. antitrust case against Google mirrors Microsoft battle
Michael Liedtke and Marcy Gordon, The Associated Press

The Trump administration’s legal assault on Google actually feels like a blast from the past. The U.S. Justice Department filed an equally high-profile case against a technology giant in 1998, accusing it of leveraging a monopoly position to lock customers into its products so they wouldn’t be tempted by potentially superior options from smaller rivals.

Here’s Why Google Shares Rose After the U.S. Antitrust Suit
Tom Giles and Gerrit De Vynck, Bloomberg

Google was hit by the biggest U.S. antitrust case in a generation on Tuesday, when the Department of Justice alleged the company is using monopoly power in the web search market to freeze out competition. The United States of America et. al. v. Google LLC could turn into a management headache that ties up lawyers in courts for years and forces the company to change how it conducts the business that makes up about 60% of sales and even more of its profit. Other cases may be filed, too.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Dish submit C-band applications
Monica Alleven, FierceWireless

A lot of the usual suspects are among the applicants for the FCC’s C-band auction, set to start on December 8. The FCC on Monday released the list of 74 short-form applicants signing up to participate in the auction. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are among those registering, as well as U.S. Cellular, C Spire and Dish Network.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

TikTok explicitly calls out white nationalism, white genocide theory, and male supremacy as hate speech
Chris Stokel-Walker, Business Insider

TikTok has strengthened its community guidelines to better tackle coded language and symbols that help spread hate speech. The company announced in a blog post on Wednesday morning that it “will stem the spread of coded language and symbols that can normalize hateful speech and behavior.”

House Republicans urge Democrats to call hearing with tech CEOs
Rebecca Klar, The Hill

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are urging the panel’s Democratic chairman to hold a hearing with the CEOs of big tech companies regarding censorship and a law that grants the firms a liability shield. The Republicans in a letter to Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) called for a hearing with Twitter, Google and Facebook CEOs regarding censorship and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Snap Sales Beat Estimates on Rebound in Digital Ad Spending
Sarah Frier, Bloomberg

Snap Inc. surged more than 20% after the social-media company reported quarterly revenue and user growth that topped estimates, lifted by advertisers’ stepped-up spending and consumers’ increased use of their phones for messaging and entertainment during the pandemic.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

NSA warns defense contractors of recent Chinese government-backed hacking
Shannon Vavra, CyberScoop

U.S. defense contractors should be wary of Chinese government-backed hackers who are actively exploiting a multitude of known vulnerabilities to target — and successfully breach — victim networks, the National Security Agency said in an advisory Tuesday.

Microsoft disables most of cybercriminals’ control over massive computer network
Joseph Menn, Reuters

Microsoft Corp said on Tuesday it had disabled more than 90% of the machines used by a gang of Russian-speaking cyber criminals to control a massive network of computers with a potential to disrupt the U.S. election. Aided by a series of U.S. court orders and relationships with technology providers in other countries, Microsoft said it its weeklong campaign against the gang running the Trickbot network was heading off a possible source of disruption to the Nov. 3 U.S. vote.

The Police Can Probably Break Into Your iPhone
Jack Nicas, The New York Times

At least 2,000 law enforcement agencies have tools to get into encrypted smartphones, according to new research, and they are using them far more than previously known.

‘Proud Boys’ Emails Threatening Florida Voters Appear to Use Spoofed Email Address
Tess Owen and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

Some Democratic voters in Florida have been receiving unsolicited emails purportedly from the Proud Boys, a far-right street-fighting gang. The emails are threatening: “Vote for Trump or else!” the subject line says.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Wireless Nationalization and the Big Lie
Declan Ganley, Morning Consult

In recent days we’ve seen an all-out push to defeat the phantom menace of wireless “nationalization.” Democrats in the House have called for investigations. Republicans in the Senate have pledged to defeat this evil, and introduced legislation intended to block it.

The Justice Dept.’s Lawsuit Against Google: Too Little, Too Late
Kara Swisher, The New York Times

It might seem a Silicon Valley cliché, but it was a garage — a pretty dumpy one for those who got to visit it just over two decades ago — that served as the birthplace of what the U.S. government today is calling a crippler of competition, a reducer of consumer choice and a stifler of innovation.

Google in the Antitrust Dock
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

The Justice Department on Tuesday rolled out its first major antitrust lawsuit against Big Tech, and target one is Google. The search giant makes a ripe political target, but on the evidence in the lawsuit the government’s claims will be hard to prove.

If Google Is Violating Antitrust Laws, What’s the Right Remedy?
Peter Coy, Bloomberg Businessweek

This morning the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which Bloomberg News notes “started out as a college research project in the late 1990s” and “now generates about $100 billion in highly profitable revenue each year.” The accusations are strong and numerous but the remedies sought are vague and few.

The Right’s Disinformation Machine Is Getting Ready for Trump to Lose
Renée DiResta, The Atlantic

Whether President Donald Trump wins or loses, some version of QAnon is going to survive the election. On the day of the vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, the individual or group known as “Q” sent out a flurry of posts.

Research Reports

Confidentiality and Data Access: A User’s Perspective
Congressional Budget Office

Presentation by Molly Dahl, Chief of the Long-Term Analysis Unit in CBO’s Health, Retirement, and Long-Term Analysis Division, to the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology and the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics.

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