“The Federal Communications Commission has defeated another challenge to its repeal of net neutrality rules, as a federal court yesterday decided that it won't rehear the case.” The request would have placed a previously denied challenge to the FCC’s policy in front of an en banc D.C. Circuit court. While the ruling is disappointing to supporters of net neutrality, the petitioners have not exhausted all of their legal avenues and may still seek appeal to the Supreme Court, though such action has not been taken as of yet.
“Makan Delrahim, the head of the antitrust division at the Department of Justice, has recused himself from investigating Google, even as the agency’s examination of the largest tech companies ramps up.” While details remain sparse, reports have indicated that Delrahim’s conflicts may arise from previous lobbying work he did on behalf of Google while working as a lawyer in private practice. “In a statement, the agency said Ryan Shores, an associate deputy attorney general, and Alex Okuliar, a deputy assistant attorney general who joined the Justice Department last week, would oversee the tech review.”
For the first time even, regulators have awarded an exemption from the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) to automated carmaker Nuro for its R2 driverless vehicle. This exemption will allow Nuro to design its vehicle without “basic, human controls, like steering wheels, pedals, sideview mirrors, and so on.” The exemptions come at the cost of heightened reporting standards and other forms of oversight from federal regulators, but Nuro’s chief legal officer, David Estrada, noted the “regulatory certainty” the exemption provided.
“The Federal Trade Commission plans to block the sale of on-demand razor company Harry’s to competitor Edgewell Personal Care (the parent company of Schick) because it says the acquisition ‘would eliminate one of the most important competitive forces in the shaving industry.’” When viewed in light of Unilever’s 2016 acquisition of Dollar Shave Club, which was not oppose by the FTC, it seems regulators may be uniquely troubled by allowing Harry’s to sell to a company with which it competes on the shelves of major retail chains. It is not certain what implications this decision has for future acquisitions taking place outside of the shaving market.
The proposed sale of the Public Interest Registry (PIR), the organization responsible for managing the .org domain name, to a private equity group has caused much debate. The current proposal would see PIR transferred from the Internet Society, a respected non-profit group, to Ethos Capital, but still needs to be approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). “Critics worry that under its new ownership, and without the price caps once set by ICANN, Ethos could price-gouge nonprofits, activists, and others who use .org domain names.”
Legal issues surround the deal, including: A recently initiated investigation by the California Attorney General into the transaction and ICANN’s other practices; questions about the legal basis for any possible disapproval by ICANN; and pushes to extend the ICANN approval deadline, which currently sits, after a recent extension, at February 29th.
YouTube said on Monday [Feb. 3rd, 2020] that it planned to remove misleading election-related content that can cause ‘serious risk of egregious harm,’ the first time the video platform has comprehensively laid out how it will handle such political videos and viral falsehoods” (Hyperlink included in original article). This policy marks a significant commitment, but it remains to be seen how effective YouTube will be in moderating the already massive, and constantly growing, volume of content posted to the site. The YouTube strategy will target content that is “technically manipulated or doctored in a way that misleads users beyond clips taken out of context,” said one YouTube spokesperson.