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    Facebook files to dismiss FTC antitrust charges

    Facebook says the antitrust lawsuits targeting the company’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp should be dismissed. The company issued its first official response to antitrust charges from the Federal Trade Commission and 46 state attorneys general, saying that the government was seeking a “do-over.” Facebook filed motions to dismiss both cases. In a statement, the company said neither lawsuit had made a credible case for antitrust. “Antitrust laws are intended to promote competition and protect consumers,” Facebook wrote. “These complaints do not credibly claim that our conduct harmed either.” The response comes three months after the company was hit with antitrust charges from the FTC and the state attorneys general. Both cases allege that Facebook has engaged in anti-competitive behavior and that its deals to acquire Instagram and WhatsApp were meant to neutralize companies it saw as a threat. Facebook said this amounted to a do-over as both acquisitions were scrutinized, and approved, by the FTC years ago. In a new court filing, Facebook’s lawyers say that the FTC “has not alleged facts amounting to a plausible antitrust case,” and that the charges come amid a “fraught environment of relentless criticism of Facebook for matters entirely unrelated to antitrust concerns.” Regarding the case from state AGs, Facebook says that the states “lack standing to bring the case” and that they “waited far too long to act.” In its motion to dismiss the state charges, Facebook referred to the states’ case as “afterthought claims.” In addition to its acquisitions, both cases also pointed to Facebook’s platform policies, and how it treated third-party developers. The state case and the FTC lawsuit both called out Facebook’s treatment of Twitter-owned Vine, which saw its access to Facebook’s API cut off in 2013 in a decision that was approved by Mark Zuckerberg. In its motion to dismiss the FTC case, Facebook lawyers said the company “had no duty to make its platform available to any other app.” The FTC and the state AGs have until April to respond to Facebook’s motions to dismiss. As The Wall Street Journal points out, actually getting the charges dismissed before a trial requires Facebook to “meet a high legal standard” that may be difficult to clear. Even if it did, a dismissal would hardly be the end of Facebook’s antitrust woes. The company is also facing an antitrust investigation from Congress and regulators in the European Union.

    Big Tech net and critic neutrality advocate Tim Wu is joining the White House

    The man who coined net neutrality is heading back to work for the government. President Joe Biden has appointed Columbia law professor Tim Wu to the White House's National Economic Council. According to The New York Times, he'll serve as a special assistant to the president, advising him on technology and competition policy. It's an appointment that does not require approval from the Senate. Happy to say I'm joining the Biden White House to work on Technology and Competition Policy at the National Economic Council. Putting this twitter feed on hold for now -- so long! — Tim Wu (@superwuster) March 5, 2021 While he's best known for advocating for a free and open internet, Wu has also called for the breakup of Facebook and other Big Tech companies in more recent years. In 2018, he published The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age. There he argues the concentration of economic power in just a few companies has led to the current political climate of low wages and extreme nationalism. This is not Wu's first stint in government, nor is it his first time on the National Economic Council. He was also a member of the organization during the Obama administration, which did little to check the growth of companies like Facebook and Amazon. "I worked in the Obama administra­tion, and I worked in antitrust, so I will take some personal blame here, but we have not provided the merger oversight we should have," he said of his time on the Council in a 2019 interview. 

    UK lawsuit asks Qualcomm to cover $680 million to Apple and Samsung phone owners

    After being handed a series of antitrust fines over its apparent abuse of power, Qualcomm is now facing a consumer lawsuit that could see it forced to compensate UK phone owners. The country's leading consumer association Which? is suing the Snapdragon chip maker to the tune of £482.5 million ($683 million) in damages for allegedly breaching competition law. Which? claims Qualcomm used its dominance in the patent-licensing and processor markets by charging Apple and Samsung inflated fees for its tech licenses, which were then passed on to consumers in the form of higher smartphone prices. It estimates that individuals who purchased Apple or Samsung handsets since 2015 could be entitled to between £17 to £30 ($24 to $42) depending on the number and type of smartphones they bought. Qualcomm has rubbished the allegations. "As the plaintiffs are well aware, their claims were effectively put to rest last summer by a unanimous panel of judges at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States," a company spokesman told BBC News, referencing the FTC suit for unfair practices from 2017 that was dismissed last year. The latest challenge echoes the legal actions that have haunted the beleaguered chip giant over the past several years. While $683 million represents little more than 2.8 percent of Qualcomm's revenue in 2020, the company has struggled to free itself from the resulting bad publicity of fines and litigation woes. In Asia alone, it has previously been slapped with antitrust penalties in China, Korea and Taiwan that amounted to over $2.6 billion. Meanwhile, the European Commission fined it €997 million ($1.23 billion) in 2018 for paying Apple to secure an exclusive modem deal. And again in 2019, when it was struck with a €242 million fine ($271 million at the time) for alleged price dumping on 3G chips.

    Facebook wants users in order to set Messenger because the default on iOS

    Sponsored Links NurPhoto via Getty Images Facebook wants you to be able to choose Messenger as the default messaging app on iOS, The Information reports. Apparently, Facebook has been trying to convince Apple to let users swap the default messaging app to Messenger for years. Now that iOS 14 lets users select alternative web browser and email apps, Facebook is renewing its Messenger push.  “We feel people should be able to choose different messaging apps and the default on their phone,” Stan Chudnovsky, a Facebook VP, told The Information. “Generally, everything is moving this direction anyway.” Messenger probably isn’t the greatest option for your main messaging app, but being able to reset the default could let you choose apps that offer a better experience than Messenger or Apple’s Messages. Android’s mobile OS already lets users choose their preferred messaging app. Sadly, Apple is probably not going to give users that choice. Apple’s Messages app is still one reason that people buy Apple hardware, and Apple uses the encrypted messages to brag about its privacy practices.  But not allowing users to choose their default messaging app could add to the argument that Apple practices “monopolist behaviors.” The company is facing increased criticism over its App Store fees, and it is the target of multiple antitrust investigations. Today, Epic Games, Spotify and others announced the Coalition for App Fairness, an alliance to pressure both Apple and Google to change their app store rules and other restrictive policies.  In this article: facebook, messenger, messaging, app, default, ios, apple, antitrust, monopoly, news, gear All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Comments 330 Shares Share Tweet Share

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