Today's Regulatory Mix: US House Report On Competition In the Digital Economy ,Nebraska Broadband Grants, Mississippi Proposes Fines For No Call Violations
US House Report On Competition In the Digital Economy
The House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee released a report summarizing the findings of its investigation into the state of competition in the digital economy, especially the challenges presented by the dominance of Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook and their business practices.
The slate of recommendations include:
- Structural separations to prohibit platforms from operating in lines of business that depend on or interoperate with the platform;
- Prohibiting platforms from engaging in self-preferencing;
- Requiring platforms to make its services compatible with competing networks to allow for interoperability and data portability;
- Mandating that platforms provide due process before taking action against market participants;
- Establishing a standard to proscribe strategic acquisitions that reduce competition;
- Improvements to the Clayton Act, the Sherman Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act, to bring these laws into line with the challenges of the digital economy;
- Eliminating anticompetitive forced arbitration clauses;
- Strengthening the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice;
- And promoting greater transparency and democratization of the antitrust agencies.
“As they exist today, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook each possess significant market power over large swaths of our economy. In recent years, each company has expanded and exploited their power of the marketplace in anticompetitive ways," said Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) and Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) in a joint statement. "Our investigation leaves no doubt that there is a clear and compelling need for Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies to take action that restores competition, improves innovation, and safeguards our democracy. This Report outlines a roadmap for achieving that goal."
Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) added, "Our investigation revealed an alarming pattern of business practices that degrade competition and stifle innovation. These companies have made remarkable advancements that have shaped our markets and our culture, but their anticompetitive acts have come at a cost for consumers and small businesses. Competition must reward the best idea, not the biggest corporate account. We will take steps necessary to hold rulebreakers accountable. I thank Chairman Cicilline for his leadership, and will continue to work for a fair marketplace and a tech industry that can advance quality of life for every person without undermining it for others."
Nebraska Broadband Grants
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts announced the award of more than $29.5 million in funding under the Remote Access Rural Broadband Grant program, administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED). “These grants will lead to better broadband service in many areas of the state that are currently underserved,” said Gov. Ricketts. “The enhanced service will equip more of our rural communities with the technology needed to conduct business online, make virtual health visits, and engage in distance learning opportunities.”
The Broadband grant opportunity—made possible by federal CARES Act funding, including $1.08 billion of Coronavirus Relief funds allocated to the State of Nebraska—was announced by DED last spring. The grants target areas of the state where high speed internet service is nonexistent or subpar based on the FCC standard of 25/3 Mbps download/upload speeds. When all projects are completed, a minimum of 17,600 housing units will gain the ability to subscribe to broadband internet service. Most of the projects being awarded are scheduled for completion by the end of the year, with controls in place to ensure agreements are executed as planned in a timely manner. The announcement includes a list of thee grant recipients and the associated project areas.
Mississippi Proposes Fines For No Call Violations
Commissioner Brandon Presley announced that the Mississippi Public Service Commission charged five companies with 78 alleged violations of the Mississippi No-Call law. The PSC’s investigation found that these companies made dozens of illegal calls to Mississippians. Should these entities be found to have violated the No-Call law, they are subject to a combined total of $510,000 in fines.
Notices of alleged violations have been recently filed against the following companies:
- Quick Quote USA
- NWVA Coverage Corp
- Ox Car Care
- USA Service Pro, LLC
- Student Loan Financial Assistance, LLC
“Our staff is doing everything they can to actively seek out companies that violate our No-Call law and we will continue to do so until these illegal calls stop in our state. Other companies making these types of calls should take these fines as a warning that we will bring those who violate it to justice. Illegal calls to the people of Mississippi will stop—period.” said Commissioner Presley.
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The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.