Google rivals head to D.C. for antitrust dogpile

By on September 21, 2011 at 8:15 PM.

Google rivals head to D.C. for antitrust dogpile

Expedia, Nextag and Yelp are in Washington, D.C. to participate in a Senate judiciary antitrust subcommittee hearing about whether or not Google has acted anti-competitively in the market. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman is one of the executives who has been asked to provide testimony during the hearing and he has posted his written testimony on Yelp’s website. “Google is no longer in the business of sending people to the best sources of information on the web,” Stoppelman said. “It now hopes to be a destination site itself for one vertical market after another, including news, shopping, travel and now, local business reviews. It would be one thing if these efforts were conducted on a level playing field, but the reality is they are not.” Read on for more. More →

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Senate Antitrust Subcommittee chairman asks regulators to block AT&T / T-Mobile merger

By on July 20, 2011 at 3:24 PM.

Senate Antitrust Subcommittee chairman asks regulators to block AT&T / T-Mobile merger

Senator Herb Kohl, the chairman of the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee is recommending that federal regulators deny AT&T’s $39 billion planned acquisition of T-Mobile. ”I have concluded that this acquisition, if permitted to proceed, would likely cause substantial harm to competition and consumers, would be contrary to antitrust law and not in the public interest, and therefore should be blocked by your agencies,” Kohl said on Wednesday. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Congressman John Conyers, and Congressman Edward Markey also recently wrote a letter to the Justice Department and the FCC expressing concern that the acquisition would hurt competition in the U.S. wireless market. “We believe that AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile would be a troubling backward step in federal public policy–a retrenchment from nearly two decades of promoting competition and open markets to acceptance of a duopoly in the wireless marketplace,” the letter said. “Such industry consolidation could reduce competition and increase consumer costs at a time our country can least afford it.” Sprint and its CEO Dan Hesse have also been very involved in trying to stop the merger. While Hesse has argued the deal will “stifle innovation” in the U.S. Wireless market, AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson has argued the opposite and has said it will result in “net job growth.” In June AT&T’s General Counsel Wayne Watts said that the deal, which has been backed by other big tech hitters such as Microsoft, was on schedule for a March 2012 approval. More →

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Apple and Google to review DUI checkpoint-dodging applications

By on May 11, 2011 at 8:20 PM.

Apple and Google to review DUI checkpoint-dodging applications

Apple and Google are in Washington, D.C., testifying before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law. Both companies have already testified in regards to collecting location data from users, but there are more questions to be answered. Senator Charles Schumer asked Apple and Google why the firms were allowing developers to publish applications that alert drivers of DUI checkpoints. “Apple and Google shouldn’t be in the business of selling apps that help drunk drivers evade the police, and they shouldn’t be selling apps that they themselves admit are terrible,” Schumer said.  The iTunes App Store is home to “DUI Dodger,” a $2.99 application that allows users to submit and view DUI checkpoints in their area. The developer’s iTunes page says: “The idea is that information is power, and people will be less inclined to drink and drive if they know that there is a checkpoint in their area, that they are drunk, and that driving drunk carries major consequences.” The Android Market has similar applications including “Checkpoint Wingman,” a $1.99 app with a feature set that’s similar to DUI Dodger. “We do have a set of content policies regarding our Android Marketplace and although we have to evaluate each app separately, apps that share information about sobriety checkpoints are not a violation of our policies, director of public policy at Google, Alan Davidson, said. “We definitely have a policy that… [we] will not allow apps that will encourage illegal activity” Bud Tribble, Apple’s vice president of software technology, said. Apple and Google will review the applications and have been asked to follow-up with Schumer’s office within one month to explain whether or not the applications will be pulled. More →

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