Federalizing Privacy Rights: How Tech Giants Went From Protesting Privacy Laws to Supporting Them

In an impassioned speech in Brussels this October, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, threw his weight behind a federal privacy law, denouncing the data collection practices engaged in by his fellow technological giants such as Google and Facebook. While it is not new for tech companies to push for stronger privacy laws, the renewed impetus for the movement comes from the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect on May 25, 2018, and California’s Consumer Privacy Act, which will go into effect on January 1, 2020. On the heels of California’s legislation, other states such as Georgia have also introduced similar bills. This patchwork of legislations across states with different levels of obligations has pushed the tech industries to petition Congress to enact a federal legislation. Earlier in November, Senator Ron Wyden (D–OR) introduced a federal privacy bill, but many news outlets report it as unlikely to be passed into law. While the tech companies’ interest may stem more from the desire to avoid compliance with 50 different laws on privacy, this post analyzes the public policy implications of a federal legislation on privacy for the complicated digital economy. Present federal protections for privacy rights: The current approach at the federal level in regulating [read more]

Antitrust Scrutiny of Vertical Mergers Under the Trump Administration

By: Andrew Saba The business world welcomed the Trump administration with open arms, believing it would usher in a new era of unprecedented growth by disposing of many of the barriers implemented during the Obama Administration, such as Net Neutrality. During his first week in office, President Trump signed Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to cut two existing regulations for every new regulation they enforce. Since the implementation of the executive order, deregulation has ensued, the market has improved, and growth has been steady. One area where this pro-business approach has not been observed uniformly is that of vertical mergers in the cable industry. Most famously, the Department of Justice  (DOJ) sued to block the $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner back in November, and the case is headed for an early trial in March. The ruling in this case will be largely influential in the cable industry, as more distributors and programmers of content are merging in order to stay competitive with the relatively new threat of streaming services. The merger between AT&T and Time Warner is a vertical merger—a merger between two companies that operate at different stages of the production process for a [read more]