Google unveils auto-delete for location, Web activity, and app usage data

Retailers all but beg FTC to take action against Google, Amazon

Enlarge / Mountain View, Calif.—May 21, 2018: Exterior view of a Googleplex building, the corporate headquarters of Google and parent company Alphabet. (credit: Getty Images | zphotos)

A group of the biggest retailers in the country, including Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Apple, and T-Mobile, is asking federal regulators to do something about the outsized power digital competitors Amazon and Google have in the marketplace.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, a trade group representing dozens of major retail chains, submitted lengthy comments this week (PDF) to the Federal Trade Commission urging an update of antitrust policy for the “information infrastructure” era, in business-to-business interactions as well as equal access to consumers, and for the FTC to “take the next step with investigations and actions against companies impeding free market competition.”

The organization wants the FTC to act “not to complain about competition” from companies such as Facebook, Google, or

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Congressional hearings signal growing antitrust problems for big tech

Congressional hearings signal growing antitrust problems for big tech

Enlarge / The European Commission is investigating potentially false claims that Facebook cannot merge user information from the messaging network WhatsApp, which it acquired in 2014. Warsaw, Poland, on December 21, 2016. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (credit: NurPhoto | Getty Images)

The House Antitrust Subcommittee will conduct a series of hearings on the growing power of big technology companies, Chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) announced on Monday. It’s the latest sign of growing interest in antitrust action against the largest technology companies—especially Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple.

“After four decades of weak antitrust enforcement and judicial hostility to antitrust cases, it is critical that Congress step in to determine whether existing laws are adequate to tackle abusive conduct by platform gatekeepers or whether we need new legislation to respond to this challenge,” Cicilline said in a press release.

The announcement came shortly after news about a deal between

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Facebook, Google stocks fall on imminent antitrust probes

Facebook, Google stocks fall on imminent antitrust probes

(credit: Sam Churchill / Flickr)

The stock market has reacted badly to reports in The Wall Street Journal that two of the nation’s largest technology companies—Facebook and Google—are likely to face intensifying antitrust scrutiny from federal regulators in the United States.

As I write this on Monday afternoon, Facebook stock is down 7 percent, while Google stock is down 6.5 percent. The S&P 500 index of large stocks is down less than 1 percent.

An unusual legal arrangement gives the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission joint responsibility for antitrust enforcement. The two agencies negotiate to decide which one will represent the government in any particular inquiry.

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Supreme Court ruling could threaten Apple’s 30 percent app commission

Supreme Court ruling could threaten Apple’s 30 percent app commission

Enlarge (credit: Chesnot/Getty Images)

A narrowly divided Supreme Court is allowing a group of consumers to move forward with a lawsuit charging that Apple overcharges customers for App Store purchases. Apple had asked courts to throw out the lawsuit, arguing that the law only allowed app developers, not customers, to bring such a case.

The lawsuit has been underway since 2011 and is nowhere close to resolution. The stakes are high. Apple’s iOS platform is notable for completely shutting out alternative means of app distribution. Other major software platforms—including Android, Mac OS, and Windows—offer customers the option to download and install software they acquire from third parties without paying a commission to the platform owner. But ordinary iPhone users—those who are unwilling or unable to jailbreak or use developer tools—have no way to install apps other than through the official App Store.

Plaintiffs in this case argue that Apple’s 30

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