AI & THE MEDIA

FTC Chair: AI Models Could Violate Antitrust Laws

Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan said Wednesday that companies that train their artificial intelligence models on data from news websites, artists’ creations or people’s personal information could be in violation of antitrust laws.

NET NEUTRALITY

FCC Reclaims Some Broadband Oversight From FTC

The FCC announced on Tuesday that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Trade Commission taking back some oversight duties over broadband providers. The MOU dissolves the agencies’ 2017 agreement in which the FTC took on enforcement duties after the Trump-era FCC repealed net neutrality rules and reduced its authority over ISPs. The FCC voted to restore those rules last week and reclassify broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

Judge Suggests FTC Should Conduct New Study Of ‘Click To Cancel’ Proposal

COMMENTARY

Heard About The FTC’s Ban On Noncompetes? The Truth Is Worse

Scott R. Flick: “On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission announced a new rule banning employee noncompete agreements, treating them as harmful and an ‘unfair method of competition.’  This includes noncompetes in the broadcast industry, where they serve a vital purpose that was given short shrift by the FTC.

Business Groups Race To Block FTC’s Ban On Noncompete Agreements

The nation’s biggest business lobbying group and a national tax-services firm have sued the Federal Trade Commission.

What To Know About The FTC Ban On Noncompete Agreements

THE PRICE POINT

Killing Noncompetes Could Deliver A Body Blow To Broadcasters

If the Federal Trade Commission’s decision to ban noncompete agreements stands, anchors and many reporters should brace for the probability of seeing their salaries fall.

FTC Votes To Ban Noncompete Agreements

The Federal Trade Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday to ban noncompete agreements that prevent tens of millions of employees from working for competitors or starting a competing business after they leave a job.

TikTok’s Troubles Just Got Worse: The FTC Could Sue Them, Too

A privacy case against TikTok would add fuel to the bipartisan chorus of criticism directed at the company over its ties to China.

Meta Files Emergency Petition To Derail FTC Hearing On Teens’ Data

Meta Platforms on Monday asked a federal appeals court for an emergency injunction halting an FTC in-house hearing that could result in a ban on monetizing teens’ data. The social media platform contends that FTC in-house hearings are unconstitutional — in part, because the FTC acts as both prosecutor and judge at in-house hearings.

FTC: Web Browsing Data Is Sensitive — Full Stop

The Federal Trade Commission says it considers web browsing data sensitive, even when stripped of names, Social Security numbers and other comparable information traditionally considered “personally identifiable.” “Browsing and location data are sensitive. Full stop,” the FTC said in a post discussing recent privacy complaints it brought against Avast (which sold users’ web browsing data) as well as two location data brokers (Outlogic and InMarket Media).

Cable Industry Blasts FTC Push To Outlaw ‘Junk Fees’

The cable and broadband lobby is blasting the Federal Trade Commission’s proposal to outlaw junk fees, arguing the potential rules are not only unconstitutional but would also disrupt ad practices throughout the country.

COMMENTARY BY KARL BODE

Cable Giants Insist That Forcing Them To Make Cancellations Easier Violates Their First Amendment Rights

Neither the FCC nor FTC has a particularly good track record of standing up to broadband and cable giants when it comes to their longstanding track record of anticompetitive behavior, price gouging or nickel-and-diming their often captive customers with bogus, hidden fees. Though occasionally one of the two agencies does step in to try make a bare minimum effort to rein in the industry’s worst impulses, such as the FTC’s attempt, unveiled last March, to force companies to stop making canceling service a pain in the ass. But the cable and broadband industry, which has a long and proud tradition of whining about every last consumer protection requirement (no matter how basic), is kicking back at that requirement.

FTC Investigates Partnerships Between Big Tech And AI

The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday it is investigating how partnerships between large tech businesses and artificial intelligence companies could affect competition. The agency sent so-called “6b” orders — equivalent to subpoenas — to the tech companies Microsoft, Amazon and Google, and artificial intelligence businesses OpenAI and Anthropic. Those orders seek information about deals between  Microsoft and OpenAI, Amazon and Anthropic, and Google and Anthropic.

Meta Presses To Halt FTC Effort To Restrict Use Of Teens’ Data

Meta Platforms is pressing a federal district court judge to stay a Federal Trade Commission administrative proceeding that could result in an order prohibiting the company from monetizing teens’ data. In papers filed late last week, Meta tells U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly it will face “irreparable harm” unless he halts an administrative hearing at which the company “will be forced to litigate before its litigation adversary, and without the procedural protections inherent in federal court litigation.”

Meta Presses Judge To Declare FTC Structure Unconstitutional

Meta Platforms on Wednesday pressed its argument that the Federal Trade Commission’s structure, including the way it conducts in-house enforcement actions, is unconstitutional. “The commission’s dual role as prosecutor and judge … is flatly inconsistent with fundamental principles of due process,” Meta argues in papers filed with U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss in Washington. The company is seeking an injunction to halt an in-house proceeding that could result in an FTC order banning Meta from monetizing minors’ data.

U.S. Regulators Seek New Online Privacy Safeguards For Children

The FTC proposed sweeping privacy changes on Wednesday that could curb how social media, game and learning apps use and monetize youngsters’ data.

Amazon Urges Judge To Throw Out FTC’s Antitrust Charges

Amazon is asking a federal judge to throw out Federal Trade Commission charges that the company illegally hindered competition in the “online superstore” market, to the detriment of third-party sellers that use the platform as well as consumers. In a motion filed with U.S. District Court Judge John Chun in Seattle, Amazon argues that FTC’s allegations concern “common retail practices that presumptively benefit consumers.”

Meta Sues FTC, Claims Enforcement Action Unconstitutional

Meta Platforms on Wednesday escalated its battle with the Federal Trade Commission by claiming in a new lawsuit that the agency’s structure, including its ability to conduct in-house hearings, is unconstitutional. The lawsuit — which comes as Meta and the FTC are battling over teens’ data — includes a request to prevent the agency from moving forward with a hearing that could result in an order prohibiting Meta from using teens’ data for ad targeting or algorithms.

FTC Seeks To Block IAB From Weighing In On ‘Dark Patterns’ Battle

The Federal Trade Commission is asking a federal judge to reject efforts by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and other outside groups to weigh in on Amazon’s side in a dispute over its alleged use of “dark patterns.” The Interactive Advertising Bureau last month argued in a proposed friend-of-the-court brief that the FTC’s allegations against Amazon amounted to an attempt “to regulate and punish truthful statements made in advertising.”

Amazon Flooded Search Results With Irrelevant Sponsored Ads, FTC Alleges

Amazon founder-owner Jeff Bezos instructed executives to flood the giant ecommerce company’s search results with irrelevant ads to pump up its profits, The Federal Trade Commission charges in newly unredacted documents from its antitrust lawsuit against Amazon. During a key meeting, Bezos directed executives to “accept ‘more defects’ as a way to increase the total number of advertisements shown and drive up Amazon’s advertising profits,” the FTC document charges.

ANA Opposes FTC Proposal To Crack Down On Fake Reviews

The Federal Trade Commission’s proposed regulations aimed at curbing fake reviews could violate the First Amendment by chilling legitimate commercial speech, advertisers told the agency Friday. Instead of issuing regulations, the FTC should continue to issue guidance and case-by-case prosecutions against companies that attempt to dupe consumers with fake reviews, the Association of National Advertisers argues.

Lina Khan Vs. Jeff Bezos: This Is Big Tech’s Real Cage Match

The chair of the Federal Trade Commission wants to disrupt Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, built a trillion-dollar firm by disrupting retail.

Amazon Hit With Antitrust Lawsuit By FTC, 17 States

The Federal Trade Commission and a bipartisan coalition of 17 state attorneys general sued Amazon over violations of anticompetitive behavior on Tuesday, building on the government’s crackdown on the market power of powerful tech companies. The lawsuit targeting Amazon is twofold — alleging the e-commerce giant’s practices are anticompetitive in how it serves shoppers as well as third-party sellers on the site, according to an FTC announcement.

A Monopoly-Busting Amazon Lawsuit Might Be Biden’s Boldest Move Yet To Tame Tech

A long-awaited antitrust case against Amazon’s massive online retail operations is expected to be filed in federal court as soon as Tuesday, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. The Federal Trade Commission has been preparing a complaint since at least the start of this year targeting an array of Amazon’s business practices. The exact details of the lawsuit are not known, and changes to the final complaint are possible until it’s officially submitted. But personnel throughout the agency, including FTC Chair Lina Khan herself, have homed in on several of Amazon’s business practices.

FTC Recommends Format Changes, New Icons For Children’s Advertising

Online influencers, game makers and others who post online ads aimed at children should deploy formatting techniques that clearly  clearly separate the ads from surrounding content, the Federal Trade Commission advises in a new staff report. “The best way to prevent harms stemming from blurred advertising is to not blur advertising,” the agency writes in the report, “Protecting Kids from Stealth Advertising in Digital Media.”

Why The FTC’s Lina Khan Is Taking On Big Tech, Even If It Means Losing

Since Lina Khan became Federal Trade Commission chair in 2021, she’s challenged Meta, Microsoft, and Amazon, and that’s made her a lightning rod for controversy. WSJ breaks down the battles she’s picked and why she’s willing to lose.

Microsoft-Activision Antitrust Win Raises M&A Revival Hopes

Microsoft Corp.’s success fighting the Federal Trade Commission’s challenge to its $69 billion Activision Blizzard Inc. acquisition could ease the path to more deals at a time when Wall Street has been confronting a severe merger drought. Stiffer enforcement by the FTC and Justice Department under the Biden administration has deterred a number of deals in recent years, but those regulators’ losing record in the courtroom will likely weaken that effect, experts say.

Biden Administration Unveils Tougher Guidelines On Mergers

The proposed road map for regulatory reviews, last updated in 2020, includes a focus on tech platforms for the first time. Pictured: Jonathan Kanter, who leads the Justice Department’s antitrust division, and Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, at a Senate hearing last September. (Graeme Sloan/Sipa, via Associated Press)

FTC’s Court Loss Raises Fresh Questions About Its Chair’s Strategy

Lina Khan has said a fear of defeat should not deter the agency from suing big tech companies. But after Microsoft won a ruling this week, her critics say that strategy is flawed.

Judge Rejects FTC Delay Of $70 Billion Microsoft-Activision Deal

Microsoft also said it was negotiating changes to the deal to satisfy objections made by a British regulator, which could allow it to complete its purchase of the video game giant as soon as this month.

Biden Announces 2 Republican Nominees For Federal Trade Commission

President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Andrew Ferguson and Melissa Holyoak to fill the two open Republican seats on the Federal Trade Commission, the White House said Monday. Ferguson is solicitor general for the Commonwealth of Virginia and previously served as chief counsel to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnel of Kentucky. Holyoak is the solicitor general for Utah, where she oversees the state’s merger reviews and antitrust enforcement. She previously was general counsel for the Hamilton Lincoln Law institute, a conservative nonprofit public interest law firm.

Lina Khan Is Coming For Amazon, Armed With An FTC Antitrust Suit

The agency is expected to focus on Amazon’s online marketplace. Khan is deemed unlikely to accept any tweaks to the business.

Ad Group Criticizes FTC’s Proposed ‘Click To Cancel’ Rules

The Association of National Advertisers is weighing in against several of the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed “click to cancel” regulations, arguing that they “would hinder innovation and the free flow of commerce without providing commensurate benefits or protections to consumers.” The group says in a written filing that some of the proposed regulations “would create consumer frustration and unnecessary burdens,” are “out-of-step with the ways businesses and consumers interact,” and “would impose excessive restrictions on sellers’ ability to communicate with their customer base.”

FTC Proposes ‘Click-to-Cancel’ Online Subscription Rule

The Federal Trade Commission has proposed making it easier for consumers to cancel online subscriptions they no longer want — including to streaming services — with civil penalties for companies that violate the new rules.

FTC Sues Amazon For Enrolling Consumers Into Prime Without Consent And Making It Hard To Cancel

In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, the agency accused Amazon of using deceptive designs, known as “dark patterns,” to deceive consumers into enrolling in Prime, which provides subscribers with perks such as faster shipping for an fee of $139 annually, or $14.99 a month.

Melissa Holyoak Emerges As FTC Nominee, Could Be Announced This Week

Melissa Holyoak, solicitor general of Utah and a longtime litigator, is poised to be nominated for a seat on the Federal Trade Commission as soon as this week. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has submitted Holyoak’s name as a potential commissioner for the FTC to the White House — and is expected to formally nominate her in a matter of days, according to multiple sources close to the situation.

FTC Plans to Seek Restraining Order To Stop Microsoft From Closing Activision Deal

The Federal Trade Commission plans to seek an emergency court order that would block Microsoft from closing its $75 billion deal for Activision Blizzard, according to a person familiar with the matter. The FTC plans to file Monday for a temporary restraining order in federal court that would halt the companies from imminently clinching the deal, the person said. A judge would need to agree to issue the time-limited order; there is no guarantee when or if the agency will file for the request.

Parents Can Sue YouTube Over Children’s Privacy, FTC Says

The federal children’s privacy law doesn’t prevent parents from suing YouTube for allegedly violating California laws by tracking young children, the Federal Trade Commission is telling an appeals court. The federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act overrides claims rooted in inconsistent state laws, but doesn’t override state-law claims that parallel the federal law, the agency wrote in a friend-of-the-court brief filed over the weekend with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Parties Spar At FCC As Standard General-Tegna Financing Deadline Looms

Heavy hitters from both sides of the Standard General/Tegna merger debate, including former Democratic FCC and FTC chairs, met with the FCC’s Republican commissioners last week as the companies attempted to get the FCC to give them a thumbs up or thumbs down on the deal ASAP.