Europe Fines Google $1.7 Billion for Antitrust Advertising Violations

European authorities fined Google 1.5 billion euros for antitrust violations in the online advertising market, continuing its efforts to rein in the world’s biggest technology companies. The fine, worth about $1.7 billion, is the third against Google by the European Union since 2017, reinforcing the region’s position as the world’s most aggressive watchdog of an industry with an increasingly powerful role in society and the global economy.

Facebook Settles Discrimination Lawsuits by Agreeing to Ad Changes

Facebook said it will make major changes to its rules for advertisers in order to settle a string of lawsuits alleging its platform enables discrimination in housing, credit and employment. The social media platform called the settlement “historic” and expressed gratitude to the National Fair Housing Alliance and the American Civil Liberties Union, two of the groups that sued it in the first place.

Google to Give EU Android Users Browser Choice as Part of Compliance

Google plans to ask all Android smartphone users in Europe whether they want to switch to competing search engines or web browsers, one of two new concessions the search giant is offering to stave off complaints — and potential fines — from European Union antitrust regulators. The choice is part of its compliance with a 2018 EU decision that found Google had abused the dominance of Android to strong-arm phone makers into installing its eponymous search engine and Chrome web browser on mobile phones.

Publishers Sue Peloton for Using Music in Workout Videos Without Licenses

Several members of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) have collectively filed a lawsuit against fitness startup Peloton, seeking over $150 million in damages. The complaint, filed by Downtown Music Publishing, Ultra Music, and eight other publishing groups, says that Peloton has been using their musical works for years in its workout videos without proper licensing, resulting in income lost for songwriters.

FTC Should Open Antitrust Probe of Facebook, Congressman Says

Antitrust subcommittee chairman Rep. David Cicilline has written an editorial in the New York Times calling on the FTC to investigate Facebook for potential antitrust violations. He's concerned that the social network not only leveraged its power to collect and share data through questionable means, but tried to "obstruct" overseers and "smear" critics while simultaneously engaging in "denial, hollow promises and apology campaigns" that accomplished little.

After New Zealand Shooting, Lawmaker Wants Assurances from Facebook, Others

Following the live-streaming on social media of the mass shooting in New Zealand, the chair of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security wrote a letter to top executives of four major technology companies urging them to do a better job of removing violent political content. In a letter, Representative Bennie Thompson urged the chief executives of Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which owns YouTube, Twitter Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to more swiftly remove content that would spawn political extremism.

Putin Signs Bills Banning 'Fake News' That Threatens Public Health, Security

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed bills restricting online media and making a criminal of anyone who insults the state — laws that critics see as part of Kremlin efforts to stifle criticism and tighten media control. A bill passed by the Russian parliament earlier this month introduces fines for publishing materials showing disrespect to the state, its symbols or government organs. Repeat offenders could face a 15-day jail sentence.

Facebook Plans to Bolster Fact-Checking Ahead of European Parliament Election

Facebook plans to ramp up efforts to fight misinformation ahead of the European Parliament election in May and will partner with German news agency DPA to boost its fact-checking, a senior executive said. Facebook has been under pressure around the world since the U.S. election in 2016 to stop the use of fake accounts and other types of deception to sway public opinion.

EU's Top Competition Regulator Not Eager to Break Up Big Tech Companies

The European Union’s top competition regulator said Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) proposal to break up large tech companies should only be considered as a “last resort.” Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner who has been cracking down on U.S. tech giants, said in an interview on the “Recode Decode” podcast that Warren’s plan would be a step too far.

Qualcomm Wins $31 Million Award Against Apple in Patent Trial

Apple violated three Qualcomm patents and should pay the chipmaker $31 million for infringing on its technology, a jury decided, giving Qualcomm momentum as it heads into another legal skirmish with the iPhone maker next month. Qualcomm, which filed the suit in July 2017, alleged that Apple had used its technology without permission in some versions of its popular iPhone.

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Former Head of Mt. Gox Bitcoin Exchange Found Guilty of Data Manipulation

Mark Karpeles, the former head of Mt. Gox — a bitcoin exchange that went bankrupt in 2014 — was found guilty of data manipulation by the Tokyo District Court and handed a prison sentence of 2½ years that will be suspended for four years. He was found not guilty on a separate charge of embezzling millions of dollars through customer accounts.

Apple Responds to Spotify's Lawsuit Over App Store's 30% Commission

Apple Inc. defended its practice of taking a 30% cut of sales through its App Store following criticism from Spotify Technology SA, escalating a fight between the tech companies as regulators increasingly scrutinize the industry. The iPhone maker was responding to an antitrust complaint Spotify filed earlier this week in Europe, in which the streaming-music company accused Apple of abusing the App Store to limit competition against its own Apple Music.

Senators Introduce Bill to Regulate Use of Facial Recognition Technology

A bipartisan pair of senators introduced a bill that would regulate the commercial use of facial recognition technology, an issue that has gained steam as critics have raised civil rights concerns over the relatively unregulated technology. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), members of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced the first-of-its-kind legislation along with an endorsement from Microsoft and digital rights group the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Apple Launches TV Ad Campaign Emphasizing Focus on Privacy

Apple Inc. launched a television advertising campaign promoting its stance on data privacy, seeking to differentiate itself from tech industry rivals such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. that have become the target of regulatory scrutiny over the issue. The 45-second commercial will begin airing on U.S. TV stations and run throughout the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s annual “March Madness” basketball tournament that draws millions of viewers, Apple said.