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

Implementing Diversity from the Top

Apply today for new civilian careers in Tech and Cyber with the Department of the Air Force.

LAS VEGAS, NV — Chief diversity officers (CDOs) from internationally-recognized brands in tech shared their best practices during CES® – the world’s largest and most influential tech event – for integrating diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives creating innovative cultures which have resulted in positive changes across their respective organizations.

One of industry’s new innovative initiatives cited included HP’s partnership with the National HBCU Business Deans RoundtableLesley Slaton Brown, Chief Diversity Officer for HP, shared with this year’s audience that HP’s business-case competition is one way her teams are “investing in students who are ready to step up and reinvent not only the business landscape, but mindsets as well.”

For over two decades HP has actively participated in National BDPA’s High School Computer Competition (HSCC) during BDPACon, National BDPA’s annual technology conferences and career expos, as a Platinum Sponsor and mission partner providing PCs, monitors, and equipment for National BDPA’s annual coding competitions.

High School Computer Competition (HSCC) Programs

Above, High School Computer Competition (HSCC) Junior Developers (Jr. Devs) and finalists from National BDPA’s Southern Minnesota Chapter from Rochester, MN.

Carmalita Yeizman, North American Lead for Diversity and Inclusion at Bosch shared with her audience how Bosch balances employee resource group (ERG) participation among junior developers with community STEM programs such as First Robotics. As a Strategic Partner, Bosch has an opportunity to utilize its industry experience to offer insights for FIRST programs. In Detroit, MI and other cities, Bosch continues to provide funding, equipment, volunteers and more to enhance the reach and overall impact of FIRST.

ces2020h-bosch-cybershoes-pttv

Above (L-R), Ms. Carmalita Yeizman, North American Lead for Diversity and Inclusion at Bosch interviews with Mr. Maynard Okereke of Hip Hop Science in Los Angeles, CA. Ms. Yeizman shares how Bosch balances employee resource group (ERG) participation with community STEM programs such as FIRST Robotics.

National BDPA members onsite this year during CES® shared with Bosch that National BDPA’s Detroit Chapter is National BDPA’s Chapter of the Year for 2019. BDPA Detroit remains very excited about new collaboration efforts to align student programs  in direct support of inclusive initiatives. Industry needs a very strong workforce to “drive” more innovation into robotics, autonomous vehicles (AVs), and electric vehicles (EVs) across automotive sector OEMs and their supply chains.

ces2020j-ben-hasan-walmart-btAt Walmart, Ben Hasan, Senior Vice President and Chief Global Culture, Diversity & Inclusion Officer, cites having and maintaining an outstanding relationship with corporate executives which at times include very candid diversity and inclusion conversations with recommendations. Mr. Hasan stated diversity and inclusion has pivoted from a compliance approach towards more social science and neuroscience approaches at Walmart. Similar to ERGs, Walmart operates nine associate resource groups (ARGs) in support of their diversity and inclusion mission sets.  This shift to operations, as an integral part of Walmart’s business units, affords ARGs inclusive educational curricula with opportunities to enhance both internal and external customer experiences.

Mr. Hasan is no stranger to BDPA.   During National BDPA’s Technology Conference and Career Expo in Raleigh, NC, he shared a breakfast with National BDPA’s HSCC finalists from the National Capital Region where he discussed his experiences in college and industry with Jr. Developer teams from BDPA-DC.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) just announced earlier this week during CES® that CTA will invest $10 million in venture firms and funds focused on women, people of color and other underrepresented startups and entrepreneurs.

“To continue to evolve and grow, the tech industry needs more equal access to venture funding,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “Various research reports indicate diverse teams make better decisions and achieve greater profits. At CTA, this is one more tool we are deploying to help promote diversity in the technology industry.”

“The U.S. needs to invest in a diverse talent pool to capture great ideas and innovation and help birth more ‘unicorn’ companies,” said Tiffany Moore, senior vice president, political and industry affairs, CTA. “CTA is committed to this investment and will work with established funds and fund managers who focus on women, people of color and other underrepresented groups.”

Top cover photo (L-R) features Tiffany Moore, Senior Vice President, Consumer Technology Association (CTA), host and moderator; Carmalita Yeizman, North American Lead for Diversity and Inclusion at Bosch; Lesley Slaton Brown, Chief Diversity Officer for HP; and Ben Hasan, Senior Vice President and Chief Global Culture, Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Walmart, Inc.
— Photo © 2020 bdpatoday | Sources: CTA and BDPA, contributors Sarh Brown (CTA) and Perry Carter (BDPA).

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

Exhibits or Presentations, email: events@bdpadc.org

DASHBOARD Act could force more disclosures from BigTECH, consumer data profits, and usage

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced the Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight And Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act, bipartisan legislation that will require data harvesting companies such as social media platforms to tell consumers and financial regulators exactly what data they are collecting from consumers, and how it is being leveraged by the platform for profit.

“When a big tech company says its product is free, consumers are the ones being sold. These ‘free’ products track everything we do so tech companies can sell our information to the highest bidder and use it to target us with creepy ads,” said Senator Hawley. “Even worse, tech companies do their best to hide how much consumer data is worth and to whom it is sold. This bipartisan legislation gives consumers control of their data and will show them how much these ‘free’ services actually cost.”

“For years, social media companies have told consumers that their products are free to the user. But that’s not true – you are paying with your data instead of your wallet,” said Senator Warner. “But the overall lack of transparency and disclosure in this market have made it impossible for users to know what they’re giving up, who else their data is being shared with, or what it’s worth to the platform. Our bipartisan bill will allow consumers to understand the true value of the data they are providing to the platforms, which will encourage competition and allow antitrust enforcers to identify potentially anti-competitive practices.”

As user data increasingly represents one of the most valuable, albeit intangible, assets held by technology firms, shining light on how this data is collected, retained, monetized, and protected, is critical. The DASHBOARD Act will:

  • Require commercial data operators (defined as services with over 100 million monthly active users) to disclose types of data collected as well as regularly provide their users with an assessment of the value of that data.
  • Require commercial data operators to file an annual report on the aggregate value of user data they’ve collected, as well as contracts with third parties involving data collection.
  • Require commercial data operators to allow users to delete all, or individual fields, of data collected – and disclose to users all the ways in which their data is being used. including any uses not directly related to the online service for which the data was originally collected.
  • Empower the SEC to develop methodologies for calculating data value, while encouraging the agency to facilitate flexibility to enable businesses to adopt methodologies that reflect the different uses, sectors, and business models.

The DASHBOARD Act is the second tech-focused bill Hawley and Warner have partnered on. The first was Hawley’s Do Not Track Act, which would be modeled after the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) “Do Not Call” list and allow users to opt out of non-essential data collection.

Source: senate.gov

 

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

#BDPACon19  convenes August 1-3, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia  —  bdpa2019.com

bdpacon19_poster02.jpg

Tech juggernauts are returning to Capitol Hill for a new round of hearings

WASHINGTON — Now under attack by POTUS, meet the new wolves of ‘K Street’.

Ahead of tech executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter heading to more hearings in front of the U.S. Senate, in this video Loup Ventures’ Gene Munster discusses what he expects to hear from these powerful companies.

“Here’s the CODE…”

What are their new agenda items, hidden or otherwise? Legacy policies have eroded, our data and privacy are next to non-existent, artificial intelligence (Ai), social media, and search engine optimization (SEO) algorithms (“algos“) matter—regulations are inevitable.

M&A: A merger or an acquisition? How soon could artificial intelligence and machine learning subsume legislative processes and ‘become one’ with Federal, State, and Local lawmakers when governing bodies can no longer fully embrace software-defined  ecosystems, cybersecurity challenges,  nor keep pace with new technologies?  ‘Swiping left‘ or ‘swiping right‘ for proposals, bills, and votes in near real-time are distinct possibilities with human-in-the-loop machine learning.

Bail-Out: Oversight committees and regulatory demands for discriminatory algorithms, pleas for open source software, or mandatory transparency for pseudo-code or source code will not bode very well for search engine and social media business models.

When industry’s “Secret Sauce” no longer remains secret nor immune from new laws and regulations, alternative value propositions will respectfully be requested from lawmakers and appropriators by lobbyists, stakeholders and shareholders in order for powerful applications and algorithms to preserve industrial dominance across all industry sectors.

Powerful trends toward digital transformation, end-user empowerment, and global policies such as the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are just the beginning.

— Sources: CNBC and BDPA Washington

PTTV | Popular Technology TV

Cyber ROTC

The House Passes Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Policy Bill

WASHINGTON — The House voted on Wednesday,  May 18th, 2016, to add billions to a list of Pentagon weapons programs and training, then signed off on a $583 billion Pentagon budget. The final vote was 277-147.

cap-domeH.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, also calls for the establishment of ROTC Cyber Institutes. Mock wars in cyberspace, new technologies, new challenges, training, and recruiting new talent remain mission priorities.

See Section 562 subtext below.
______________________________

…SEC. 562. ESTABLISHMENT OF ROTC CYBER INSTITUTES AT SENIOR MILITARY COLLEGES.

(a) In General.—Chapter 103 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

usafa-cyber§ 2111c. Senior military colleges: ROTC cyber institutes

“(a) Program Authorized.—The Secretary of Defense may establish cyber institutes at each of the senior military colleges for the purpose of accelerating the development of foundational expertise in critical cyber operational skills for future military and civilian leaders of the armed forces and the Department of Defense, including such leaders of the reserve components.

“(b) Elements.—Each cyber institute established under this section shall include each of the following:

“(1) Training for members of the program who possess cyber operational expertise from beginning through advanced skill levels, including instruction and practical experiences that lead to cyber certifications recognized in the field.

“(2) Training in targeted strategic foreign language proficiency designed to significantly enhance critical cyber operational capabilities and tailored to current and anticipated readiness requirements.

“(3) Training related to mathematical foundations of cryptography and cryptographic theory and practice designed to complement and reinforce cyber education along with the strategic language programs critical to cyber operations.

“(4) Training designed to expand the pool of qualified cyber instructors necessary to support cyber education in regional school systems.

“(c) Partnerships With Department Of Defense And The Armed Forces.—Any cyber institute established under this section may enter into a partnership with any active or reserve component of the armed forces or any agency of the Department of Defense to facilitate the development of critical cyber skills.

“(d) Partnerships With Other Schools.—Any cyber institute established under this section may enter into a partnership with one or more local educational agencies to facilitate the development of critical cyber skills under the program among students attending the elementary and secondary schools of such agencies who may pursue a military career.

“(e) Senior Military Colleges.—The senior military colleges are the senior military colleges in section 2111a(f) of this title.”.

(b) Clerical Amendment.—The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
“2111c. Senior military colleges: ROTC cyber institutes.” …

— U.S. Air Force Academy photos

Senator Feinstein Pushes for Final Passage of Cyber-Security Bill

cyber-woman

eWeek 11.11.15

WASHINGTON—Saying that losses due to cyber-attacks could cost the U.S. economy more than $400 billion this year, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) argued passionately for final approval of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which was passed by the Senate at the end of October.

Quoting recent studies from Industry on the costs of cyber-crime, Feinstein listed a series of cyber-attacks, including one in 2012 on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco Oil Company that wiped out three-quarters of its computers.

“It’s only a matter of time before they progress to our critical infrastructure,” she said. Senator Feinstein was speaking to a small group of executives at the offices of Arent Fox, a law firm with offices here. Feinstein highlighted what she regards as one of the strengths of the bill as passed by the Senate. “We crafted a bill that got 74 votes on the senate floor,” she said.

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