Europe's top trustbuster thinks it'll be impossible to break up Facebook

    Margrethe Vestager (previously) is the EU Commissioner responsible for handing out billions in fines to Big Tech to punish them for monopolistic practices. Read the rest

    Watch: Tim Wu debates trustbusting with Tyler Cowen, who just wrote "a love letter" to Big Business

    Competition scholar Tim Wu (previously) is one of the most cogent, accessible voices in the antitrust debate; his recent book on the subject is a must-read; this week, he debated George Mason University scholar Tyler Cowen, proprietor of Marginal Revolution and one of the leading voices for the expansion of unfettered, unregulated capitalism -- he's the face of the notorious Mercatus Center, where rich donors choose the faculty and out pop arguments against universal health care and Net Neutrality. Read the rest

    Supreme Court greenlights Apple customers' lawsuit over App Store price-fixing

    The Supreme Court has ruled on a key question in Apple Inc v Pepper, a class action suit arguing that the App Store violated antitrust law by driving up prices through the monopolistic tactic of prohibiting users from buying apps from third parties, and then taking a 30% commission on every app sold, which led software companies to raise prices in order to remain profitable after Apple had taken its cut. Read the rest

    Co-founder of Facebook calls for breakup of Facebook

    Chris Hughes co-founded Facebook with Mark Zukerberg, and describes Zuckerberg in warm terms as a friend, but in a long op-ed for the New York Times, Hughes calls for the breakup of Facebook and identifies Zuckerberg's shortsighted prioritization of "clicks" instead of "security and civility" for the platform's toxicity, blaming the company's unusual share structure (which gives Zuckerberg an absolute veto over all matters of company policy despite holding a minority of its shares) for a situation in which Zuckerberg is surrounded by yes-men who never check his worst impulses. Read the rest

    Charter's new way to be terrible: no more prorated cancellations

    Charter isn't America's most hated company, but that's only because Comcast is so next-level terrible that they distort the leaderboard; nevertheless, Charter tries hard! Whether it's slashing billions from network outlays while raising prices way ahead of inflation or lying so egregiously that they get kicked out of New York State, Charter is relentless in its pursuit of ways to be a shitty, shitty company. Read the rest

    "Steering With the Windshield Wipers": why nothing we're doing to fix Big Tech is working

    My latest Locus column is "Steering with the Windshield Wipers," and it ties together the growth of Big Tech with the dismantling of antitrust law (which came about thanks to Robert Bork's bizarre alternate history of antitrust, a theory so ridiculous that it never would have gained traction except that it promised to make rich people a lot richer). Read the rest

    Bernie Sanders announces a farmers' right-to-repair and antitrust proposal similar to Elizabeth Warren's

    Bernie Sanders' latest campaign plank is a suite of agricultural reforms similar to the ones proposed by Elizabeth Warren in March, including a national right-to-repair law for agricultural equipment, antitrust breakups of agribusiness seed, meatpacking and fertilizer monopolies, patent law reform to curb abuses of seed patents, reform of US trade agreements to support "domestic food security", rationalized supply management and a grain and feed reserve, national disaster coverage, relief for family farm bankruptcies, pro-diversity policies for 4H and other agricultural pipelines, incentives for regional co-ops, and a suite of climate change remediation measures. Read the rest

    AOC endorses Elizabeth Warren's Big Tech breakup plan

    Elizabeth Warren wants to break up Big Tech, a thoroughly excellent idea with many devils in the details: AOC backs her play: "Facebook as a basic communications platform while also selling ads and also being a surveillance platform. Those functions should be broken up, but how that gets levied and how that gets approached is what we need to take a fine-tooth comb at." Read the rest

    Facebook never delivered its "Clear History" feature

    A year ago, Facebook -- wracked by the Cambridge Analytica scandal (and many, many others) -- promised a "Clear History" feature that would allow its users to wipe clean the nonconsensual dossiers that the company had compiled on them, a promise uttered by Mark Zuckerberg himself during the F8 developer conference. Read the rest

    Elizabeth Warren's latest campaign plank is a national Right-to-Repair law for farm equipment

    Senator Elizabeth Warren is hoping to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020; she distinguishes herself from other left-wing Democrats like Bernie Sanders in her belief that capitalism is a force for good, but must be reformed and subjected to democratic control, while Sanders and the DSA are skeptical of capitalism and its long-term future (Disclosure: I donated to both the Sanders and Warren 2020 campaigns). Read the rest

    Facebook and Big Tech are monopsonies, even when they're not monopolies

    Big Tech is often in a monopoly situation (for example, Amazon's Audible owns something like 90% of the audiobook market), but even where they aren't monopolies, they are often monopsonies: a single buyer that controls the whole market that a variety of sellers want to sell into. Read the rest

    One company bought all the retail outlets for glasses, used that to force sales of all the eyewear companies and jacked up prices by as much as 1000%

    If you wear glasses, you might have noticed that they've been getting steadily more expensive in recent years, no matter which brand you buy and no matter where you shop. Read the rest

    Elizabeth Warren reveals her plan to break up Big Tech

    Would-be Democratic Presidential nominee Elizabeth Warren (I've donated to her campaign, as well as Bernie Sanders') has published her latest policy prescription: a plan to break up Big Tech monopolists to protect the public's privacy and the interests of small-business competitors. Read the rest

    Amazon just bought mesh wifi company Eero. Oh, great.

    We have an Eero system in our house; it does really good and reliable wifi distribution, including to my office in the garage. And it was nice to have a piece of home electronics that was neither from one of the great data-sucking companies like Google, nor from the control-freak companies like Apple -- and also not from a no-name white-label re-badger or a giant shitty telco switch company whose consumer products arm is an afterthought. Read the rest

    The Curse of Bigness: Tim Wu channels Brandeis on Big Tech (and Big Everything Else)

    Tim Wu (previously) is best known for coining the term "Net Neutrality" but the way he got there was through antitrust and competition scholarship: in his latest book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age, Wu takes a sprightly-yet-maddening tour through the history of competition policy in the USA, which has its origins in curbing the near-limitless power of the robber barons in the name of creating a pluralistic, open society where anyone could participate, only to have this vision perverted by extremists from the Chicago School, who sold (with the help of wealthy backers) a wholly fictional version of what Congress intended with its antitrust rules. According to Chicago's version of things, the only thing antitrust should concern itself with is the highly technical and speculative question of "consumer harm" (in the form of higher prices) and not competition itself. Read the rest

    The Myth of Capitalism: an ardent capitalist decries monopoly

    Naked Capitalism's John Siman reviews Joanthan Tepper and Denise Hearn's The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition, in which Tepper (who does research that is sold to asset managers) condemns capitalism's current state while rejecting Thomas Piketty (who says that capitalism inevitably elevates the already-rich, not the people who create wealth by doing useful things) and Karl Marx. Read the rest

    Privatized energy utilities are burning down their states, but antitrust can make them stop

    Pacific Gas and Electric has gone from Wall Street darling to bankruptcy, thanks to the $30 billion in liability from the fires that were started in California by its power-lines. Read the rest

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