A string of controversies in recent years involving tech companies has led many observers to call for stronger antitrust enforcement and a tougher competition policy. A new addition to this public demand comes from an unlikely source: In Nov 2018, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case brought by Apple to dismiss a lawsuit from Robert Pepper and three other iPhone owners. The defendants in Apple Inc. v. Pepper accuse the company of acting like a monopolist by controlling which apps to publish in its app store, taking a cut of sales, and prohibiting other app distributors.
It is time to move past the political and marketing talking points to consider both the promise of 5G and the challenge to its realization. First of all, to call 5G a “race” is a deceptive metaphor. A “race” connotes a contest along a common course with a start and finish. The reality is that 5G networks will be built piece-by-piece, area-by-area, and application-by-application over a protracted period of years. The national strategy for 5G needs to move beyond slogans and press releases.
The Nov 27 Senate hearing on the activities of the Federal Trade Commission highlighted the shortcomings of applying industrial-era thinking to internet-era challenges. The new digital reality calls for both expansive regulatory oversight as well as legislative action. FTC Chairman Joseph Simons' constrained description of the FTC’s authority highlights the need for creative new responses the the ongoing collision between conservative dogma and the unconstrained activities of Big Tech.
The digital era has spurred tremendous advancements throughout human society, but it has also led to immense instability and inequality. Now, a handful of companies maintain unfettered dominance over key components of economic activity, with little signs of slowing. In this paper, Tom Wheeler sheds light on the issues of the information age by demonstarting its parallels with the Gilded Age, during which rapid industrial expansion led to centralized power and eventually gave way to massive reforms.
If the American people and Congress are looking to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for leadership in the protection of personal privacy, they should prepare for disappointment. In a recent filing with the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the FTC walked away from giving consumers meaningful control of their private information. The bromides they espoused sound remarkably similar to the arguments of the companies that routinely exploit our privacy.