Fb’s looming antitrust battles – POLITICO

With the help of Leah Nylen, John Hendel and Cristiano Lima

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– FTC prepares for Facebook suit: After nearly two years of investigation, the Federal Trade Commission is likely to vote this week on whether and how to initiate antitrust proceedings against Facebook – one that is expected to focus on the giant’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.

– States also ready: The attorneys general will likely be pushing their own competitive battle against the social network this week. More than 30 of them plan to sue in federal court.

– Still he insisted: In a rare public appearance since the election, President Donald Trump used a weekend rally in Georgia to reinforce his demands and include the language to end Section 230 in the National Defense Authorization Act.

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EVERY DAY NOW: FACEBOOK AGAINST ITS ANTITRUST RECKONING – The FTC is likely to vote this week to bring an antitrust case against Facebook. After a 20-month investigation, the FTC commissioners spent weeks pondering the case and whether to file it in federal court or the agency’s internal court. Now the agency’s five commissioners are finally ready to vote, people said, speaking anonymously to discuss an ongoing investigation.

– Biggest Open Questions: How many FTC commissioners will vote for the Facebook lawsuit and where will it be filed? FTC Chairman Joseph Simons and Democratic Commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter are in favor; Where the FTC’s other two Republicans fall remains to be seen. Whether the FTC lawsuit is filed in federal court or internally, the allegations will likely focus on Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as the social network’s efforts to kill other potential competitors, such as by accessing data its platforms will be locked.

– That’s not all: Prosecutors General are expected to bring their own antitrust lawsuit against the social network. New York Attorney General Tish James and more than 30 other states are planning to go to federal court this week. As with the eventual FTC lawsuit, the complaint will likely focus on Facebook’s acquisitions and behavior towards rivals – and states will likely ask the court to wind up the Instagram and WhatsApp deals.

– What to look out for in the suit of states: Which states are joining and which are not allowed to raise eyebrows. So far, California has not participated in anti-trust efforts in several states and has preferred to conduct its own investigations on Google and Facebook. Another point to look out for: What remedial action are states calling for, e.g. B. To make it easier for Facebook users to transfer their data to other websites (in Wonk parlance: “data portability”), or to ask the company to allow users to transfer data seamlessly to other locations (in Wonk speak: “Interoperability”).

– The defense of Facebook: the social network has been preparing for these suits for more than a year and improving its defense. (See CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to the House of Representatives Justice this summer, and more recently his responses to a Senate judiciary hearing in November.) The company plans to take into account the fact that the FTC broke the 2012 Instagram deal and the 2014 WhatsApp acquisition checked under the time – and that the agency let it through. And while the FTC has retrospectively sued and liquidated mergers, most of them are smaller deals that were scrutinized until a few months later, rather than mergers that occurred nearly a decade ago.

TRUMP’S RALLYING CRY: ‘END SECTION 230’ – Trump took his calls to repeal Section 230 of the National Defense Authorization Act to Georgia over the weekend, where he held a rally on Saturday to bring Republicans Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler into the Promote impending runoff elections that will determine control of the 117th Congress.

– “Tell our senators: end of section -” said the President and paused so that the crowd could finish the verdict for him. “230!” They cried. (Isn’t that something that once obscure, shaky law is now a household name?) “I want it on the defense bill,” Trump said. “Use it because it’s a national security problem.” He added that legislation is the “only chance we have” to hold the tech giants accountable, “who are malicious and violent and untrue”. He described the repeal of Section 230 as “very popular politically,” although most congressmen opposed the idea.

– What’s next? The House will vote on the must-pass on Tuesday, pass compromise laws, and lawmakers in both chambers are getting ready to tackle Trump’s threat of veto.

ICYMI ON 230: SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES “LOOK LIKE MEDIA COMPANIES” – John Stankey, top executive at telecommunications giant AT&T, shot dead some of his rivals in Silicon Valley during a Washington Post event on Friday and found them to be “unprecedented” are. Size.

– “I’m not sure if this is healthy for our economy as a whole or for consumers in the long run,” said Stankey. He referred to the debate on the protection of Internet liability and questioned what leeway social media companies are currently given. “They look like media companies to me,” said the CEO of AT&T. “It is no stranger to the idea that we should limit the clout of a media company.” AT&T endorsed changes to this Section 230 protection in comments submitted to the FCC in September.

– The AT&T CEO also explained the company’s desire to work with the Biden administration on its universal broadband ambitions. “There’s a lot of energy behind it, with the Biden administration coming,” said Stankey. He and other AT&T leaders have stepped up their advocacy of these issues over the past few months, including efforts to change the way the US subsidizes broadband.

ANNUAL CONGRESSIONAL COPYRIGHT PUSH MEETS RESISTANCE – A coalition of tech, advocacy and public interest groups urges Congressmen not to include an intellectual property proposal package in the omnibus government spending bill. In a letter on Friday, the groups questioned the news that Capitol Hill officials are considering including on the omnibus a bipartisan bill aimed at optimizing the payment of copyright owners for infringement claims known as the CASE Act.

Who Signed: The coalition, which included tech trade groups like the Internet Association and NetChoice, and stakeholders like Public Knowledge, told lawmakers that including the package “will have a negative impact on small and medium-sized businesses, creators, libraries and theirs Sponsors, students, teachers, educational institutions, religious institutions, fan communities, internet users and freedom of expression. “According to the letter, the legislator is also considering including the trademark modernization act HR 6196 (116) and an undefined” Proposal for the streaming of criminal offenses “in the omnibus.

Transitional Watch: President-elect Joe Biden has selected California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has emerged as a threat to big tech, to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

Congratulations to Facebook’s Vice President, Executive Communications, Sarah O’Brien, who oversees communications for Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. … Dan Rubin, former communications director and senior advisor to the US House Ways and Means Committee, joins the Glen Echo Group’s DC office as senior director. … TechNet promoted Cameron Demetre, who joined the organization from the California Treasury, to executive director for California and the Southwest.

Pulling the Curtain Back on Biden’s Digital Strategy: The Biden campaign’s online tactics were less extreme and empathetic than those of the Trump camp, which helped Democrats review Trump’s enormous (and enormously passionate) base, NYT reports.

ICYMI: “How Joe Biden Can Help Internet Companies Moderate Malicious Content,” on The New Yorker.

In profile: the late Zappos visionary Tony Hsieh and the story of his last months on Forbes. And more here from WSJ.

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Inked: Trump on Friday signed the 2020 Internet of Things Cyber ​​Security Improvement Act, HR 1668 (116), which sets security standards for IoT devices used by the U.S. government.

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