Apparently, the Justice Department is moving closer to approving T-Mobile’s $26 billion merger with Sprint, but only if the companies sell multiple assets to create a new wireless competitor. The department is pushing T-Mobile and Sprint to sell a prepaid mobile service and valuable radio frequencies that carry data to wireless devices. The companies have approached three internet and television providers — Dish Network, Charter and Altice — about buying Boost Mobile, a prepaid service owned by Sprint, and airwaves owned by Sprint.
Google and Amazon have thrived as American regulators largely kept their distance. That may be changing. Politicians on the right and left are decrying the tech companies’ enormous power. President Donald Trump (R-NY) and other Republicans have taken swipes at Amazon over taxes and at Google over search results they say are biased.
Plans to upgrade wireless service in some rural areas is being halted abruptly since President Donald Trump issued an executive order that banned the purchase of equipment from companies posing a national security threat. That includes gear from Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, a major supplier of equipment to rural wireless companies.
Facebook’s announcement in late April that it had set aside $3 billion to $5 billion to settle claims that it mishandled users’ personal data suggested a strong consensus by federal regulators that the social media giant needed to be held accountable. But the reality behind the scenes at the Federal Trade Commission is far more complicated, reflecting the politics and give-and-take of the negotiations.
When Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook called for regulating harmful internet content in an op-ed, Republicans in Washington expressed outrage that he was calling on the government to regulate speech. Within hours, the company’s top lobbyists started spreading another message to conservatives: Don’t take his suggestion too seriously. The operatives said Zuckerberg was not encouraging new limits on speech in the United States.
Facebook now faces investigations into its business practices from a variety of federal agencies. Officials have opened inquiries into possible civil and criminal violations of laws related to privacy, corporate governance and discrimination. Facebook has largely denied wrongdoing in each of the investigations and said it was cooperating with regulators and law enforcement. Here are the agencies looking into Facebook, and some of the issues involved.
A Q&A with Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons.
Spring 2018, soon after Facebook acknowledged that the data of tens of millions of its users had improperly been obtained by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, a top enforcement official at the Federal Trade Commission drafted a memo about the prospect of disciplining the social network. Lawmakers, consumer advocates and even former commission officials were clamoring for tough action against Facebook, arguing that it had violated an earlier Federal Trade Commission consent decree barring it from misleading users about how their information was shared.
Google’s chief executive, in perhaps the most public display of lawmakers’ unease with his company’s influence, was grilled about everything from search result bias and the data Google collects about its users to plans for a censored service in China. Sundar Pichai, an engineer who rose through Google’s ranks to become its leader three years ago, faced more than three hours of questions from the House Judiciary Committee. Republicans expressed concerns about unfair treatment of conservatives, and lawmakers in both parties zeroed in on privacy issues.
Democrats and Google executives worked arm in arm for years, particularly during the Obama administration. But when Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, testifies before Congress, some of the toughest questioning is likely to come from Democrats. The hearing will provide an early glimpse of how Democrats plan to approach Silicon Valley giants in the coming year as they assume control of the House of Representatives.