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Global Tracker for Developments in Antitrust Enforcement and Competition Policies for the Tech Sector
USC Gould School of Law

This tech sector antitrust/competition tracker, run by the Center for Transnational Law and Business, provides recent news and developments in competition policy and antitrust enforcement specific to the tech sector in different regions around the world.

United States | Europe | Americas | Asia-Pacific

United States

Biden’s enforcers see antitrust threats in AI rush

May 9, 2023

As tech companies blaze ahead with aggressive plans to integrate artificial intelligence tools into more of their products, President Biden’s top antitrust enforcers say they see potential threats to competition amid the rush.

The Biden administration has largely emphasized potential discriminatory uses of AI that could undermine civil rights. But the recent remarks suggest there’s growing attention on the tool’s impact on competition in Silicon Valley.

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Tech industry keeps outracing the government

May 5, 2023

While CEOs of the companies leading today's AI wave met at the White House Thursday, the leaders of the Biden administration's antitrust campaign against tech giants were also gathering for a stock-taking a few blocks away.

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Experts weigh the current cost of anticompetitive behavior in Big Tech

May 5, 2023

How to identify, remedy, and prevent anticompetitive behavior by Big Tech companies was the theme of the day-long February 24 conference, “Antitrust and 21st Century Bigness: Dealing with Tech Platforms in a Globalized World." Antitrust scholars, practitioners, and regulators from the United States and Europe discussed technology mergers and monopolization, the reach of current competition law, and potential regulatory and legislative changes to address anticompetitive conduct by technology firms.

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Lina Khan says that decades-old lessons from IBM could guide the way the government regulates A.I. today

May 4, 2023

There’s no shortage of warnings that artificial intelligence will displace workers, risk undermining democracy, and, if left unchecked, potentially overpower its human creators. But a much more immediate risk of A.I.’s rapidly accelerating scale could be that the technology will overwhelmingly benefit only a handful of powerful actors, according to Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission and one of the country’s loudest voices against corporate anti-competitiveness. And she’s already on the case.

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Google’s bid to dismiss DOJ antitrust lawsuit over ad tech denied

April 28, 2023

A federal judge on Friday denied Google’s motion to dismiss a Justice Department antitrust case focused on advertising technology, saying the government’s case was strong enough to go forward.

The government, which filed the ad tech lawsuit in January, has argued that Google should be forced to sell its ad manager suite. Google has denied any wrongdoing.

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Apple app store policies upheld by court in antitrust challenge brought by Epic Games

April 28, 2023

Apple won an appeals court ruling upholding its App Store’s policies in an antitrust challenge brought by Epic Games.

Monday’s ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court judge’s 2021 decision largely rejecting claims by Epic, the maker of Fortnite, that Apple’s online marketplace policies violated federal law because they ban third-party app marketplaces on its operating system. The appeals panel upheld the judge’s ruling in Epic’s favor on California state law claims.

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As Regulators Block Tech Deals, They Increasingly Look to the Future

April 27, 2023

As companies like Google and Facebook grew into giants in the early 21st century, regulators chose largely not to interfere in the still-young market for online services.

Now regulators have reversed course: When it comes to tech, they want to see into the future and beat companies to getting there.

The decision by the British authorities on Wednesday to block Microsoft’s $69 billion bid for the video game giant Activision Blizzard exemplified the new approach. British officials said a core reason for rejecting the deal was how it could threaten competition in the nascent market for cloud gaming, which lets users stream their favorite video game titles.

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Mastercard reports US antitrust probe of debit card program

April 27, 2023

Mastercard Inc on Thursday said the US Justice Department was conducting an antitrust investigation of its US debit program and competition with other payment networks.

The company in a filing said it had received a civil investigative demand, the civil equivalent of a subpoena, from the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. The filing did not specify the government's concern beyond saying it had to do with its US debit program and competition with rivals.

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UK antitrust regulator refused permission to appeal Apple probe ruling

May 3, 2023

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Britain's antitrust regulator, was on Wednesday refused permission to appeal against a ruling that it had no power to open an investigation into Apple Inc's mobile browser and cloud gaming services.

Apple won an appeal in March against the decision from the CMA to open a full investigation into the dominance of Apple and Alphabet Inc's Google in mobile browsers.

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Big Tech Has Formidable Foe in Britain’s Antitrust Watchdog After Microsoft Blow

April 27, 2023

The UK’s surprise decision to stop the Microsoft Corp. $69 billion Activision Blizzard Inc. deal in its tracks shows a more muscular approach to deal enforcement that’s come into its own since Brexit.

The final ruling deals a blow to Microsoft’s chances of securing the world’s biggest gaming takeover and puts the Competition and Markets Authority at the center of global antitrust alongside the US and the EU. Wednesday’s decision is globally binding and the road to approval looks to be hard slog.

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UK Ofcom Proposes to Refer Cloud Computing Market for Antitrust Investigation

April 26, 2023

The UK communications regulator and concurrent competition authority, Ofcom, announced on April 5 its proposal to refer the UK cloud services market to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for further investigation. This coincided with publication of the interim report of Ofcom’s market study of the largest providers of cloud services (referred to by the authority as “hyperscalers”) in the United Kingdom’s £15 billion ($18.7 billion) cloud services market.

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Microsoft / Activision deal prevented to protect innovation and choice in cloud gaming

April 26, 2023

The CMA has prevented Microsoft’s proposed purchase of Activision over concerns the deal would alter the future of the fast-growing cloud gaming market, leading to reduced innovation and less choice for UK gamers over the years to come.

The final decision to prevent the deal comes after Microsoft’s proposed solution failed to effectively address the concerns in the cloud gaming sector, outlined in the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) provisional findings published in February.

Microsoft entered into a $68.7 billion deal to buy Activision, one of the most popular video games publishers in the world, in January 2022. The CMA launched an in-depth review of the deal in September 2022, and in February 2023 provisionally found that the merger could make Microsoft even stronger in cloud gaming, stifling competition in this growing market.

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Microsoft kickstarts settlement discussions with European cloud companies over antitrust complaints

April 20, 2023

Microsoft has kickstarted settlement discussions with European not-for-profit trade association Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers in Europe (CISPE), some six months after CISPE filed an antitrust complaint alleging that Microsoft was using its dominance in business software to tether customers to its Azure cloud platform.

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White smoke in SIC: Government confirmed appointment of María del Socorro Pimienta

April 11, 2023

Eight months after the arrival of President Gustavo Petro, the name of the new Industry and Commerce Superintendent is finally known: Maria del Socorro Pimienta.

The lawyer is currently in charge of the entity but, after the announcement made by the Executive, she will formally assume the position.

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Apple reiterates demand that Brazilian regulator's App Store antitrust investigation be shelved immediately and gets UK appellate hearing on March 10 (CMA market investigation)

February 8, 2023

In mid-January, Brazil's competition authority--Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica (CADE), which translates as Administrative Council for Economic Defense--opened a full-blown investigation into Apple's App Store terms and practices further to complaints by Latin America's largest e-commerce company, Mercado Libre (in Brazil: Mercado Livre), and another regional player, Clique. A complaint by Mercado Libre is also pending in Mexico.

A week ago, Apple filed an answer to CADE's question concerning investigations in other jurisdictions that was, quite naturally, designed to understate the extent to which the App Store is the subject of antitrust inquiries around the globe.

Yesterday, Apple responded to another CADE request and provided a copy of its App Store Review Guidelines as well as a Portuguese translation of that document.

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The interim in the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce is concerned, the new head is also under commission

February 2, 2023

The appointment of María del Socorro Pimienta Corbacho as Superintendent of Industry and Commerce was made official by Decree 0129 issued last Tuesday, January 31, by the Ministry of Commerce.

However, as read in the norm, this designation maintains the provisionality in that official unit: "Instruct, as of January 31, 2023, in the job of superintendent, Code 0030, Grade 25 of the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC), to Dr. María del Socorro Pimienta”.

In this way, the internship persists in the institution responsible for enforcing the proper functioning of the markets through the surveillance and protection of free economic competition, despite the fact that this government will adjust within six months of taking office.

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Brazil's antitrust authority (CADE) opens full-blown investigations of Apple's App Store monopoly abuse further to complaints by Mercado Libre and Clique, regardless of low iPhone market share

January 19, 2023

Brazil is becoming an increasingly important jurisdiction for competition as well as patent enforcement. In October, Brazil's competition authority--Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica (CADE), which translates as Administrative Council for Economic Defense--rendered a well-considered decision clearing Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Earlier this week, IAM's Adam Houldsworth pointed out that Ericsson was on the winning track against Apple in Brazil, with a key decision by Brazil's top court shortly before the December 2022 settlement (paywalled article). I've obtained some documents and will analyze them in the days ahead.

The latest news is that CADE yesterday opened formal investigations of Apple's alleged abuse of its iOS app distribution (and in-app payments) monopoly further to complaints by Latin America's e-commerce giant Mercado Libre and another complainant named Clique. Mercado Libre is the Amazon on the continent of the Amazon river: the leading regional ecommerce company.

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India startups call for antitrust probe of Google in-app billing fee

April 10, 2023

Top startups in India have called on the country’s competition watchdog to launch an inquiry into Alphabet’s Google for allegedly bypassing an antitrust directive by charging a high service fee for in-app payments, a filing shows.

The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) filing marks the latest tussle between Google and Indian startups, which have repeatedly criticised the U.S. company for imposing unfair business restrictions that hurt smaller players.

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Korea's antitrust regulators take aim at tech, promises reform

March 20, 2023

An Indian tribunal on Wednesday gave partial relief to Alphabet Inc's Google by setting aside four of 10 antitrust directives in a case related to the dominant market position of its Android operating system.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said in October that Google had exploited its dominant position in Android and told it to remove restrictions imposed on device makers, including related to the pre-installation of apps. It also fined Google $161 million.

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Dan Klerman awarded Fulbright Senior Scholar grant to conduct research in Israel
June 7, 2023

At Hebrew University in Jerusalem, USC Gould professor will compare immigration policies

Trailblazer Elyn Saks sees ‘gender-inspired mental health activism happening all the time now’
June 6, 2023

USC Gould professor is founder, faculty director of Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy and Ethics

USC Gould Law Library showcases ‘rejuvenating power of music’
June 2, 2023

Performances feature LA Philharmonic concertmaster, saxophone quartet