Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Investigation Reveals Digital Economy Highly Concentrated, Impacted By Monopoly Power

WASHINGTON—The House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee released the findings of its more than 16-month long investigation into the state of competition in the digital economy, especially the challenges presented by the dominance of Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook and their business practices.

The report, entitled Investigation of Competition in the Digital Marketplace: Majority Staff Report and Recommendations, totals more than 400 pages, marking the culmination of an investigation that included seven congressional hearings, the production of nearly 1.3 million internal documents and communications, submissions from 38 antitrust experts, and interviews with more than 240 market participants, former employees of the investigated platforms, and other individuals. The full report may be downloaded by clicking here.

“As they exist today, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook each possess significant market power over large swaths of our economy. In recent years, each company has expanded and exploited their power of the marketplace in anticompetitive ways,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) and Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) in a joint statement. “Our investigation leaves no doubt that there is a clear and compelling need for Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies to take action that restores competition, improves innovation, and safeguards our democracy. This Report outlines a roadmap for achieving that goal.”

After outlining the challenges presented due to the market domination of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook, the report walks through a series of possible remedies to (1) restore competition in the digital economy, (2) strengthen the antitrust laws, and (3) reinvigorate antitrust enforcement.

The slate of recommendations include:

  • Structural separations to prohibit platforms from operating in lines of business that depend on or interoperate with the platform;
  • Prohibiting platforms from engaging in self-preferencing;
  • Requiring platforms to make its services compatible with competing networks to allow for interoperability and data portability;
  • Mandating that platforms provide due process before taking action against market participants;
  • Establishing a standard to proscribe strategic acquisitions that reduce competition;
  • Improvements to the Clayton Act, the Sherman Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act, to bring these laws into line with the challenges of the digital economy;
  • Eliminating anticompetitive forced arbitration clauses;
  • Strengthening the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice;
  • And promoting greater transparency and democratization of the antitrust agencies.

“After conducting this country’s first major congressional antitrust investigation in decades in which we held hearings, heard from experts and questioned the CEOs of dominant tech platforms, I can say conclusively that self-regulation by Big Tech comes at the expense of our communities, small businesses, consumers, the free press and innovation,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. “By reasserting the power of Congress, we now have a thoroughly researched and meticulously reasoned roadmap for the work ahead as we rein in anti-competitive behavior, help prevent monopolistic practices and allow innovation to thrive. I’m looking forward to continuing this urgent work.”

“This comprehensive report is a roadmap to a future where digital behemoths with considerable power over their markets are kept accountable to consumers, small businesses, and their workers,” said Rep. Hank Johnson, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. “By following these recommendations, we can bolster antitrust protections to ensure consumer choice, data privacy, and affordability in online marketplaces. But in doing so, we must also answer the overarching question that we’ve been grappling with: How do we remain a country where small businesses can thrive, even as we shift from brick and mortar to lines of code? That is our challenge now.”

Rep. Val Demings added, “Our investigation revealed an alarming pattern of business practices that degrade competition and stifle innovation. These companies have made remarkable advancements that have shaped our markets and our culture, but their anticompetitive acts have come at a cost for consumers and small businesses. Competition must reward the best idea, not the biggest corporate account. We will take steps necessary to hold rulebreakers accountable. I thank Chairman Cicilline for his leadership, and will continue to work for a fair marketplace and a tech industry that can advance quality of life for every person without undermining it for others.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and they must be able to compete on a level playing field,” said Rep. Lucy McBath. “We must do all we can to ensure our economy remains fair, our entrepreneurs have the incentive to innovate, and our small businesses are given the opportunity to prosper and create new and good-paying jobs.”

“This investigation has revealed that Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google were committed to drowning out competition through unfair and anti-competitive practices – often doing so at the expense of user privacy and innovation,” said Rep. Scanlon. “We must do everything we can to protect consumers and this report is a roadmap to the work that lies ahead. I look forward to developing and introducing legislation to restore fairness to the digital marketplace.”

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Amazon Announces All-New Fire HD 8 Tablets for the Entire Family

Select here for exciting civilian careers in Tech or Cyber with the Department of the Air Force!

SEATTLE —  Amazon today announced the next generation of its Fire HD 8 tablet lineup, designed with the entire family in mind: the all-new Fire HD 8, Fire HD 8 Plus, and Fire HD 8 Kids Edition.

All-New Fire HD 8 Kids Edition: Built from the Ground-Up for Kids

The all-new Fire HD 8 Kids Edition includes the Fire HD 8 tablet with an 8” HD display, 32GB of storage with up to 1TB of expandable storage via microSD, up to 12 hours of mixed-use battery life, and USB-C for reversible charging. It also comes bundled with a kid-proof case with a new adjustable stand in blue, pink, or purple, a two-year worry-free guarantee, and a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited—all for $139.99.

amazon-tablets_Fire_HD_8_All_ColorsWith Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, kids can enjoy over 20,000 premium, age-appropriate books, Audible books, educational apps, games, and videos on their Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, including new and popular titles such as Pinkfong Baby Shark, Sonic Dash, Descendants Junior Novel, and Barbie Dreamtopia from brands like Smartstudy, PBS KIDS, SEGA, and Mattel. Kids can also enjoy over 2,000 Spanish language titles, like Pinkfong! Car Songs, Plaza Sesamo, National Geographic Readers: Los Tiburones (Sharks), and Los Sentidos de Los Insectos.

Within FreeTime, kids can easily discover over 1,500 educational titles organized by core curriculum and extracurricular topics, such as math, science, exercise, art, and virtual field trips. In addition, for a limited time, families will also have access to additional premium content from HOMER and PBS Kids within FreeTime Unlimited. All of the FreeTime Unlimited content is kid-friendly and hand-selected by the Amazon FreeTime team with new titles added regularly.

“Over 20 million kids (and their parents) have enjoyed the award-winning Amazon FreeTime service and we’re excited to make it even better with new educational content that helps to keep kids learning and entertained,” said Kurt Beidler, Director of Kids and Family, Amazon. “The all-new Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is built from the ground up to offer the FreeTime Unlimited content kids love and the parental controls parents trust—all wrapped in a colorful kid-proof case with a two-year worry-free guarantee.”

Fire HD 8 Kids Edition comes with access to award-winning parental controls that encourage learning before play. With FreeTime, parents can manage their child’s FreeTime settings, such as the ability to set daily goals, age filters, and time limits for both weekdays and weekends. Parents can also use parental controls to choose what content kids can access and to add more content. These settings can be managed on the device or parents can visit Amazon’s Parent Dashboard to view daily activity reports and easily adjust their child’s FreeTime settings from any web browser, whether they’re on a mobile device or computer.

Availability

The all-new Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is available for pre-order now, starting at $139.99 at and will begin shipping next month on June 3. As an introductory offer, BDPA Members and Amazon customers who purchase two Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablets together will receive a 25% discount.  Free subscriptions end after the first year; however, they can be used on any compatible device, including Fire tablets, Fire TV, Kindle, Echo, iOS, Chrome OS, and Android devices.

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Tablets For Teens

To help local communities in advance of our next school year, discover more by partnering with local BDPA Chapters or visiting tabletsforteens.org.

“I.T.’s” happening!

— Sources: Amazon and BDPA

 

 


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McDonald’s new growth plan includes mobile app enhancements and kiosks

CHICAGO, IL—To bring customers into the restaurants, McDonald’s must matter to people and be relevant in their daily lives. To do so, McDonald’s is accelerating digital capabilities and enhancing its use of technology in restaurants, in the drive-thru, and on the go.

mcd-appInside the restaurants, McDonald’s is bringing greater control, convenience and personalization to our customers through the use of kiosks to place orders, staffed with guest experience leaders to assist in the process. Customers can place their order and skip the front counter entirely, with their food brought right to their table. Additionally, customers will be able to place orders directly on the mobile app for pickup or have a kiosk recognize their app profile, which holds customized favorites and preferred payment methods. The result is a more stress-free, personalized experience, enhanced by technology and world-class hospitality that puts customers in control.

The same enhanced experience will be available outside the restaurant too. In the 1970s, McDonald’s revolutionized convenience in the drive-thru to make getting high-quality food easy. Now, that experience is being transformed once again. By enabling mobile order and pay through the McDonald’s app, customers can personalize their order while skipping the drive-thru line and instead choosing curbside delivery. If customers choose the drive-thru, they will simply read the already placed order code to the crew and their mobile order will be ready for pickup at the window. These more efficient enhancements will speed up the process and allow more customers to pass through our drive-thrus.

mcd-app2Mobile order and pay will be launched in 20,000 restaurants in some of our largest markets, including the U.S., by the end of 2017.

— Source and photos:  McDonald’s Corporation

Google’s Indie Games Festival is Free—New Gamers Wanted

Posted by Jamil Moledina, Google Play, Games Strategic Lead

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—If you’re an indie game developer, you know that games are a powerful medium of expression of art, whimsy, and delight. Being on Google Play can help you reach over a billion users and build a successful, global business. That’s why we recently introduced programs, like the Indie Corner, to help more gamers discover your works of art.

may16-collageTo further celebrate and showcase the passion and innovation of indie game developers, we’re hosting the Google Play Indie Games Festival at the Terra Gallery in San Francisco, on September 24.  Select here to read more

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