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Amazon Drops Lowest-Pricing Rule for Third-Party Sellers
March 13, 2019
Amazon reportedly has removed the price parity contract clause that barred third-party vendors on its platform from selling their products at a lower price elsewhere. The company long has been accused of anticompetitive behavior and has come under considerable political pressure because of its use of the price parity, also known as "most favored nation," restriction.
Warren Dons Tech-Buster Mantle
March 12, 2019
Tech giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple would be broken up under a proposal from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. "Today's big tech companies have too much power -- too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy," the Democratic presidential hopeful wrote in an online post. Warren has called for legislative remedies to address the problems.
The Strange Tech Wars of 2019
March 11, 2019
The tech market is defined by its battles: Microsoft vs. IBM; Apple vs. Microsoft; Netscape vs. Microsoft; Google vs. Microsoft. If Microsoft were a person, it likely would have PTSD. Then there was Apple vs. Google, and now the big one is Apple vs. Qualcomm. The screwy thing for me is that Huawei represents a far greater threat to both companies than they represent to each other.
FTC's Fake Reviews Settlement May Spur E-Commerce Fairness Era
February 28, 2019
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has announced a settlement of its suit against a company accused of using fake paid reviews to boost sales of its health supplement product on Amazon. The settlement puts vendors and marketing firms on notice that the FTC is committed to rigorous enforcement of rules against fraudulent reviews on e-commerce platforms.
Will Congress Override State Net Neutrality Laws?
February 21, 2019
Way back in the dark ages in May 2011 -- about 2,345 Internet years ago -- I wrote a column about Net neutrality, which was in court at the time. For those of you who are not sure, "Net neutrality" is short for "Internet neutrality" or "network neutrality." The concept addresses user access to the Internet, and the debate around Net neutrality centers on whether ISPs can limit, tier, block or otherwise affect Internet performance.
How IBM'S Project Debater Could Fix the State of the Union
February 11, 2019
Last week, like a lot of you, I imagine, I watched the State of the Union and tried to figure out what was true and what was fiction. Tied into several of the live-streamed press fact-checking streams, I found that the comments validating or invalidating what the president said came in so far after the comment was made that it would have been better to wait until the next day.
FTC v. Qualcomm: What Really Is Going On
February 4, 2019
I've been watching antitrust cases actively since the 1980s. I had to study historical antitrust cases going back to Standard Oil and RCA, in order to ensure compliance with a related consent decree When I worked at IBM. Each of the other cases had one thing in common: Both of the companies being charged were massively and obviously monopolies. There were many questions.
DoL Seeks $400M for Oracle Workers Underpaid Due to Discrimination
January 24, 2019
The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a court action against Oracle for underpaying non-white male employees by as much as $400 million. "Oracle suppressed starting salaries for its female and non-White employees, assigned them to lower level positions and depressed their wages over the years they worked for Oracle," states a filing by the DoL's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
Dutch Doc Wins 'Forget My Suspension' Case
January 23, 2019
Google must remove search results about medical regulators' conditional suspension of a Dutch physician in the first "right to be forgotten" case of its kind in the European Union. After Google and Dutch data privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens rebuffed the doctor's initial attempts to get disciplinary actions purged from online search results, a district court in Amsterdam sided with the surgeon.
Court: Cops Can't Compel the Use of Body Parts to Unlock Phones
January 16, 2019
Authorities can't force people to unlock their biometrically secured phones or other devices, ruled a federal judge in California. "The Government may not compel or otherwise utilize fingers, thumbs, facial recognition, optical/iris, or any other biometric feature to unlock electronic devices," Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore wrote. Passcodes already are protected by the Fifth Amendment.
Apple's Self-Destructive Qualcomm, China Strategies
December 17, 2018
Why would Apple want to put Qualcomm out of business? It'is because Apple uses a lock-in strategy, where once on an Apple platform it is painful to get off. Most of the smart Apple iPhone users I know actually use Google apps and Google's infrastructure and other third-party tools on their iPhones, so if they want to move to an Android phone they can move almost seamlessly.
E-Commerce Success Strategies: Think Local, Not Global
December 14, 2018
The borderless promise of e-commerce doesn't mean one size fits all. Your business can have customers from around the globe, but if you want to keep them and grow, it is crucial to understand local shopper preferences and behaviors, and be able to respond to them. Without localization, you won't have an effective go-to-market strategy, and your opportunity for growth will stall.
Oracle and the JEDI Contract
December 13, 2018
Oracle has filed a suit in federal court over the $10 billion Pentagon JEDI contract to be awarded to a single vendor. Oracle claims that the single-vendor award is unfair and illegal, a claim it first filed with the GAO, or Government Accountability Office. The suit followed the GAO's denial of Oracle's claim. My first instinct was to call this legislative entrepreneurship.
Pichai Puts Kibosh on Google Search Engine for China
December 12, 2018
Google is not working on a bespoke search engine that caters to China's totalitarian tastes, and it has no plans to develop one, CEO Sundar Pichai told lawmakers on Capitol Hill. "Right now, we have no plans to launch in China," he told members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee at a public hearing on Google's data collection, use and filtering practices.
No Time Like the Present to Get Up to Speed on Sales Tax Laws
December 11, 2018
Americans are used to hearing the refrain, "We pay the sales tax," from mattress sellers and car dealerships during big sales weekends. The phrase, "You pay the sales tax," however, is something we're all going to become a lot more familiar with in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair. That's because the Wayfair decision reverses a precedent set in 1967 and upheld in 1992.
Facebook Staffers Once Brainstormed Ways to Sell User Data: Report
November 30, 2018
Facebook at one time considered charging companies for access to its user data, according to a report based on three pages of unredacted material from an 18-page document showing portions of some internal Facebook emails, mainly from about 2012 to 2014. The documents are linked to a lawsuit, Six4Three LLC v. Facebook Inc., alleging that Facebook's data policies were anticompetitive.
DoJ Takes Down Online Ad Fraud Ring, Indicts 8
November 29, 2018
The DoJ has revealed an unsealed indictment of eight defendants for crimes related to their involvement in widespread digital advertising fraud. The DoJ alleges the eight individuals were behind two global schemes, 3ve and Methbot, which stole tens of millions of dollars through a scam that used fake Web traffic and fake websites to reap ad view revenue from unwitting advertisers.
Reining In Social Media Without Crippling It
November 23, 2018
Earlier this year, in response to reports that Russian actors had used Facebook to disrupt the 2016 election, I wrote a few pieces about how one might go about fixing the problem. I am not sure I have solutions for everything, but what motivates me is the sagging feeling that settles in whenever society throws up its hands and punts. We can do better.
Solid Cross-Border Strategies for International Growth
November 19, 2018
International e-commerce has become more pervasive and sophisticated in recent years. In 2017, 1.66 billion people worldwide purchased goods online. During the same year, global e-retail sales amounted to $2.3 trillion, and that figure could grow to $4.48 trillion by 2021. E-commerce providers must continue to innovate to ensure they take full advantage of opportunities outside their home market.
10 Ways to Avoid Losing Your Retirement to a Scam
November 19, 2018
Several years ago, my wife and I invested in a project called "Sanctuary Belize" and, like many of the investors, we were incredibly excited about the prospect of retiring in paradise. After a time, things just weren't adding up. The company supposedly put controls in place to reverse course, but we exited the project. As it turned out, those controls either were not put in place or failed.
How AI Could Fix What Seems Unfixable
October 1, 2018
I watched last week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, and I was struck by the fact that they seemed to be more about the Democrats fighting with Republicans to see which party could corrupt the Supreme Court more effectively than they were about senators doing their jobs. What bothers me most about that is if you corrupt the highest court in the land you effectively destroy the country.
Poor Website Designs Could Trigger Legal Actions
September 21, 2018
Internet marketing has become so popular that e-commerce retail sales in the United States are on pace to double between 2009 and 2018. The transaction value of e-commerce service industry contracts reached $600 billion in 2016. Despite the rush to digital commerce, the rules for business transactions are still the same, whether they are concluded on paper or electronically.
In Technology We Trust... But Should We?
September 20, 2018
Since the industrial revolution, technology has changed society continually. Largely due to innovations in semiconductor electronics, software and computer technology, the pace of technological development has continued to accelerate over the past 50 years. Personal computers now fit into your pocket. You have access to people and information all over the world through the Internet.
ACLU Sues Facebook for Facilitating Gender-Biased Job Recruitment
September 19, 2018
The ACLU has filed charges of unlawful gender-based discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Facebook and 10 employers accused of targeting job ads at males only. The ACLU, Outten & Golden, a Washington, D.C. law firm, and the Communications Workers of America brought the class action. The complaint alleges that Facebook delivers job ads selectively.
Despite Emmys, Road Ahead Is Bumpy for Streaming Services
September 18, 2018
Netflix had a very good showing on Monday, winning 23 Emmy Awards and tying longtime Emmy-winning powerhouse HBO. Netflix, an over-the-top streaming service, claimed 112 nominations this year, four more than its premium pay-TV channel rival HBO, which had dominated the Emmys for nearly two decades. Although the Emmy wins were good news for Netflix, other recent news has been far less rosy.
Death Watch Begins for Google
September 17, 2018
The EU has been stretching its wings. In the shadow of Brexit, it apparently has decided it has the real enemy of the people in its sights: social media companies and Google. France is even more aggressive, suggesting that the EU's "right to be forgotten" law should apply worldwide. Given that it actually does fall within the legitimate purview of government, it is hard not to agree.
Facebook Goes Into High Gear to Fight Election Meddling, Fake News
September 14, 2018
Defending against foreign interference in American elections is one of the priorities Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he has been focusing on this year. The issue is highly sensitive, and it is one that has garnered a great deal of discussion in media reports and on the Web. Special counsel Robert Mueller warned in a court filing this spring that foreign interference efforts were still going on.
Google Digs In Heels Over Global Expansion of EU's 'Right to Be Forgotten'
September 14, 2018
Google took on French lawyers at the European Union Court of Justice this week, in an effort to fend off expansion of the EU's "right to be forgotten" judgment. The EU's attempts to broaden the scope of that judgment would be "completely unenvisagable," and it could result in impositions on the values of different countries around the world, Google argued.
EU Copyright Directive Advances Despite Worry Over Breaking the Internet
September 13, 2018
The European Parliament on Wednesday approved a directive aimed at protecting the intellectual property of copyright holders on the Internet. It would require online platforms to scrutinize content their users post online and enter licensing agreements with rights holders. The Parliament approved the copyright directive with a vote of 438-226, with 39 abstentions.
Human Rights Groups Amplify Call for 'Killer Robot' Ban
August 30, 2018
Leaders from Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic last week issued a dire warning that nations around the world haven't been doing enough to ban the development of autonomous weapons -- so-called "killer robots." The groups issued a joint report that calls for a complete ban on these systems before it becomes too late to act.
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When using a search engine, how often do you look beyond the first page of results?
Never -- There's always enough information on the first page to meet my needs.
Rarely -- There's usually enough on the first page, but sometimes I want to see more.
Occasionally -- If there are too many paid-for results, or if I don't find an answer on the first page.
Often -- Even if there's enough information on the first page, I like to know what else is available.
Always -- First page search results are rigged; I don't want to be limited to what an algorithm highlights.