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Antitrust

Broadband Roundup: Two Separate State Antitrust investigations of Google and Facebook, and Broadband Mapping

Broadband Breakfast Staff

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Photo of Letitia James in September 2013 by Matt Cohen used with permission

Two separate bi-partisan groups of state attorneys general on Friday confirmed that they are launching antitrust investigations into tech giant companies Google and Facebook.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, on Friday announced that she and eight other state attorneys general will be investigating Facebook. She said that the probe she is leading will consider whether Facebook “has stifled competition and put users at risk,” as she said in a statement.

“We will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions may have endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or increased the price of advertising.”

Joining in the Facebook probe are attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia, Ms. James said.

Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, announced in a news release Friday that on Monday “a multistate investigation into whether large tech companies have engaged in anticompetitive behavior that stifled competition, restricted access and harmed consumers.”

The Paxton-led group of attorneys general is apparently targeting Google, according to The Wall Street Journal, and could include 40 state attorneys general joining in.

Four member of Congress release two pieces of broadband mapping legislation

On Friday, Reps. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, Bob Latta, R-Ohio, introduced bipartisan legislation designed to improve the accuracy of the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband availability maps.

The “Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act,” H.R. 4229, is similar to the Broadband DATA Act introduced in the Senate by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

The legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Billy Long, R-Missouri, and Donald McEachin, D-Virginia. Additionally, Long and McEachin introduced the “Mapping Accuracy Promotes Services (MAPS) Act,” H.R. 4227, which will help hold broadband providers accountable by making it against the law to knowingly provide inaccurate data to the FCC. (Reps. Loebsack and Latta also cosponsored that bill.)

Specifically, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act:

  • Requires the FCC to collect granular service availability data from wired, fixed wireless, and satellite broadband providers.
  • Requires strong parameters for service availability data collected from mobile broadband providers to ensure accuracy.
  • Asks the FCC to consider whether to collect verified coverage data from state, local, and tribal governments, as well as from other entities.
  • Creates a process for consumers, state, local, and Tribal governments, and other groups to challenge FCC maps with their own data, and requires the FCC to determine how to structure the process without making it overly burdensome on challengers.

See other topical pieces on broadband mapping and data on Broadband Breakfast.

Upcoming broadband-related events for the week ahead

With impeccable timing, Georgetown Law Center’s Continuing Legal Education Center on Tuesday, September 10, hosts its antitrust enforcement symposium.

Also on Tuesday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration hosts a half-day conference on spectrum policy at the National Press Club.

On Wednesday, Brookings Institution holds a half-day session on the “challenges and opportunities” in federal privacy legislation.

Also on Wednesday, Citizens Against Government Waste holds an event on “setting the record straight on autonomous vehicles, 5Gs and the 5.9 GigaHertz band.”

And on Wednesday and Thursday, the Cloud Comms Summit Washington meets at Lansdowne Resort and Spa in Virginia to learn from experts in the cloud communications space.

Finally, this week Internet 2 extended the deadline for submissions for their 2020 Global Summit to Friday, September 13. The summit, which takes place from March 29-April 1, 2020, in Indianapolis, aims to showcase collaborative efforts in which research and educational networks are transforming research and scholarship.

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