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After Beijing, Washington, EU unleash Big Tech regulation crusade

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With the exponentially mounting tension between the U.S. and China, and each powerhouse launching its own Big Tech regulation crusade against homegrown giants, the U.S., and Europe have finally concluded how to target legion’s ever-growing supremacy.

Both continental forces have finally taken their final stance regarding American tech chiefs, with the European Union (EU) having reached on Wednesday an agreement as to what the upcoming measures should be in curbing these companies’ untamed anti-competitive practices.

The parliament’s leading political entities approved an agreement applicable to tech firms with a $91 million market capitalization as well as those offering a minimum of one internet service, such as online search and internet-based applications, according to the Financial Times.

The EU’s structured Digital Markets Act (DMA) could potentially attract a wider range of Big Tech regulation with its plans to legislate the act next year.

The European Commission’s (EC) DMA is a legislative plan developed to guarantee a heightened level of compliance from a company indulging in unusual competition in the continent’s digital market. Its sole function is to ensure that valuable companies, such as Google’s parent firm Alphabet, Meta, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and more, do not oppress smaller businesses by abusing their market sovereignty.

While Europe is taking what it perceives as the needed measure to impose Big Tech regulation on the company’s rising progression, the U.S. has expressed its concerns that the Union’s latest set of rules will affect American companies.

Even though the U.S. is marching on its rival’s path of moderating its tech giant’s rise to power, one thing is for sure, Washington is marching down the same road, but with distinctive approaches of that of Beijing.

China’s ruling Communist Party has intensified its political hold on the country’s internet titans since early 2020 by taking advantage of their wealth to become more reliant, therefore, reaching its awaited independence from European and American technology.

The condensed regulatory wave on anti-monopoly and data security misconducts shook the industry to its core. Chinese watchdogs launched a thorough examination into these corporations, and the outcome favorably suited the Communist Party.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been investigating Big Tech’s conduct in playing the market to their benefit for almost a year now, and its latest blade is aimed at cutting through Facebook’s antitrust demeanor.

On Wednesday, the FTC asked the federal court for its undivided authorization to permit the lawsuit it submitted against the social networking company to take place, stating that Meta has “interfered with the competitive process by targeting nascent threats through exclusionary conduct.”

The FTC’s lawsuit against Meta – Facebook at the time – was rejuvenated in August, with additional specifications added now, detailing how the tech titan has pressed its rivals to force acquisitions. The Commission’s accusations also revealed that Meta brought its competitors to judge to extort them to sell Instagram and WhatsApp.

As Washington indulges in its battle with its Big Tech titans, the FTC’s lawsuit will bring further enforcement to further enable the government’s perception of these firms and their demeanor in the market.

The federal entity’s legal actions against Meta will be marked as one of the most vital confrontations between authoritarian supremacy and the tech industry. In its filing with the District Court of Columbia, the Commission unveiled that Meta’s amplified market dominance grew its market share, resulting in an exponential surpass of the required levels to obtain monopoly control.

To further elaborate, for more than a decade, the giant’s market share transcended to 70 percent of daily active users, a number that outreaches the legal rate to prevent market monopolization. The Commission directs this growth towards Facebook preserving its monopoly position by acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp.

Meta has opposed all statements released by the FTC.

“The FTC has once again bought a monopolization case without a monopolist. It claims to ignore the reality that people have more choices than ever before in how they share, connect, and communicate, and its second complaint should be dismissed just like the First,” a Meta spokesperson addressed the lawsuit’s claims.

It appears that the anticipated judiciary battle between the tech industry’s most prominent league has finally reached its starting point. While some lawsuits have emerged in the past between U.S. federal entities and Big Tech, yet, if the court grant the FTC the approval it desires, Meta will be fighting for the perseverance of its position in the market with Instagram and WhatApp, as one of the leading giants.

Despite relabeling the company, Meta will continue to face governmental legal action for its misleading conduct in the market, as national authoritarian rage has finally reached the West.

With the EU’s recent set of rules targeting Big Tech, alongside Washington’s prospect of tackling the league’s market supremacy, the West’s adaptation of Eastern tactics to restraint these company’s sovereignty will open a new chapter of regulatory legislation soon.

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UK to block Facebook parent Meta’s $315M acquisition of Giphy

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It is expected that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will reverse Facebook parent company Meta’s purchase of Giphy in the coming days, according to the Financial Times.

 If that happens, it will mark the first time that the country’s competition regulator has unraveled a major tech acquisition.

Meta (Facebook previously) announced in May 2020 that it bought the GIF platform with the goal of rolling it into Instagram. Reports set the price of the deal at $400 million.

As such, Meta has previously argued that because Giphy doesn’t have any operations in the UK, the CMA has no jurisdiction in this case. In addition, it claimed Giphy’s paid services couldn’t be classed as display advertising according to the CMA’s market definition.

“After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat,” Holly Vedova, acting head of the U.S.’ Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) competition bureau, said in a statement.

The FTC filed a revised complaint against the firm just weeks after a judge threw out its original case in June. The judge had accused federal regulators of failing to provide enough evidence that Facebook created a monopoly in the social networking space.

The CMA opened an investigation into the deal the following month after it raised concerns about the acquisition. The regulator declared in August that the deal could prevent rivals such as TikTok and Snapchat from accessing Giphy’s library of GIFs, as well as removing a potential competitor to Meta in the UK advertising sector.

Meta ended Giphy’s paid ad partnerships, which the CMA said ceased the company’s ad expansion, including to other countries. Also, the watchdog suggested Meta could be forced to sell the service, having until December 1st to publish its final decision.

The UK regulator fined Meta, in October, more than $67.2 million for a “major breach” of an order to remain separate from Giphy during its investigation. The fine was the largest ever handed down by the agency. This step was taken after the regulator accused Meta of “consciously refusing to report” information about the merger.

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Australia plans laws to make social networks identify trolls

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In a step meant to set restrictions on social media platforms, the Australian government is planning to introduce laws that force social media platforms to “unmask” online trolls despite experts saying it will do little to reduce online abuse.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed plans for legislation that could force social networks to reveal the identities of trolls and others making defamatory comments. A complaint mechanism would require online platforms to take these hostile posts down, and if they don’t, the court system could order a given site to provide details of the offending poster.

“Digital platforms, these online companies, must have proper processes to enable the takedown of this content. There needs to be an easy and quick and fast way for people to raise these issues with these platforms and get it taken down,” Morrison said on Sunday afternoon.

The PM’s announcement of the anti-troll social media legislation comes two months after he said social media platforms were a “coward’s palace” and declared that they would be viewed as publishers if they are unwilling to identify users that post foul and offensive content.

In addition, the proposed laws would also make it mandatory for social media platforms to have a standardised complaints system that allows defamatory remarks to be removed and trolls identified with their consent.

As such, Digital Rights Watch executive director Lucie Krahulcova, made some remarks regarding these laws, saying they are not focused on pursuing people who libel, malign, harass, or commit similar crimes online.

“They’re not actually very excited about enforcing [existing laws] on behalf of women, people of colour, and historically I think there’s plenty of evidence of that in Australia,” Krahulcova said.

The laws, if passed, would also redirect the liability for potential defamation from organisations running a social media page to social media platforms instead.

Federal Attorney-General Michaelia Cash explained the attempt to shift defamation liability is in response to the recent Voller High Court case, which set a legal precedent where Australians who maintain social media pages could be publishers of defamatory comments made by others on social media even if they did not know about the comments. Since the ruling, media outlet CNN disabled its Facebook page in Australia.

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Nissan investing in electric vehicles, battery development

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Nissan investing in electric vehicles, battery development

Nissan said Monday it is investing 2 trillion yen ($17.6 billion) over the next five years and developing a cheaper, more powerful battery to boost its electric vehicle lineup.

The Japanese automaker’s chief executive, Makoto Uchida, said 15 new electric vehicles will be available by fiscal 2030. Nissan Motor Co. is aiming for a 50% “electrification” of the company’s model lineup, under what Uchida called the “Nissan Ambition 2030” long-term plan. Electrified vehicles include hybrids and other kinds of environmentally friendly models other than just electric vehicles.

The effort is focused mainly on electric vehicles to cut emissions and meet various customers’ needs, said Uchida. Nissan also will reduce carbon emissions at its factories, he added.

The company has been struggling to put the scandal of its former Chairman Carlos Ghosn behind it. Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades, after he was sent to Japan by French alliance partner Renault, was arrested in Tokyo in 2018 on various financial misconduct charges.

Uchida made no mention of the scandal but referred to “past mistakes” he promised won’t be repeated at Nissan.

Nissan’s “electrification” rests on developing a new ASSB, or all solid state battery, that it categorized as “a breakthrough” for being cheaper and generating more power than batteries now in use.

That means electric powertrains can be more easily used in trucks, vans and other heavier vehicles because the batteries can be smaller. The ASSB will be in mass production by 2028, according to Nissan.

The costs of electric vehicles will also fall thanks to the battery innovation to levels comparable with regular gasoline cars, Uchida said.

“Nissan has emerged from a crisis and is ready to make a new start,” he said.

All top automakers, including Nissan’s Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp., are working on electric vehicles, amid growing concern over climate change and sustainability. Global consumers are also demanding more safety features.

Uchida said Nissan was hiring 3,000 engineers to strengthen its research, including digital technology for vehicles.

Nissan, based in Yokohama, Japan, has suffered recently from the computer chips shortage that’s slammed all automakers because of lockdowns and other measures at chip factories to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The maker of the Infiniti luxury models, Leaf electric vehicle and Z sportscar is projecting a return to profitability for the fiscal year through March 2022 after racking up two straight years of losses.


TOKYO (AP)

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