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Round-up of the latest industry news – July 2023

31.07.2023
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Round-up of the latest news

Amazon has claimed that it is not a ‘Very Large Online Platform’ under the Digital Services Act and should not be designated as such.

Meta has taken action to block downloads of its Threads app in Europe via VPN.

The Federal Trade Commission has released updated rules designed to prevent mergers and acquisitions that could lessen competition and ‘reflect the realities of how firms do business in the modern economy’.

Major companies involved in AI development have committed to developing technology to watermark AI-generated content.

France has inaugurated the 2,500th multi-operator 4G tower to be deployed under the ‘New Deal for Mobile’s’ targeted coverage scheme, which provides for the opening of more than 5,000 4G cell sites in rural areas in Metropolitan France by 2027.

The long-running Microsoft/Activision deal is now in the hands of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

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Amazon has claimed that it is not a ‘Very Large Online Platform’ under the Digital Services Act and should not be designated as such. It is taking action at the EU General Court to challenge the European Commission decision that the company meets the criteria and must comply with the new regulations. Amazon is arguing that the new law is targeting the systemic risk posed by very large companies with advertising as their primary source of revenue and not businesses that are retail based. It also points out that it is ‘not the largest retailer in any of the EU countries where we operate’, and none of these larger retailers have been designated as a VLOP.

Meta has taken action to block downloads of its Threads app in Europe via VPN. The app launched in 100 countries earlier in July but not in the EU, due to concerns that the app’s data collection conflicted with the  data privacy laws. However, many users had decided to download it anyway. Meta has now ‘taken additional steps’ to prevent this, while stating that ‘Europe continues to be an incredibly important market for Meta.’

The Federal Trade Commission has released updated rules designed to prevent mergers and acquisitions that could lessen competition and ‘reflect the realities of how firms do business in the modern economy’. The FTC factsheet contains 13 guidelines, including ‘mergers should not significantly increase concentration in highly concentrated markets’ and ‘mergers should not eliminate substantial competition between firms’. The FTC has presented the changes as sensible updates following widespread consultation and hope to get broad support for them. Critics claim that the new rules could ‘chill competition’ and ‘deny small firms access to capital’.

Major companies involved in AI development have committed to developing technology to watermark AI-generated content. The companies, including OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, Meta and Amazon, claim watermarks will make it safer to share AI-generated text, video, audio and images without misleading people about its authenticity. ‘Deepfakes’ have become a major concern for users and policymakers. It’s currently unclear how the watermark will work, but it is expected to be embedded in a way that enables the tracing of the AI tools used to generate it.

France has inaugurated the 2,500th multi-operator 4G tower to be deployed under the ‘New Deal for Mobile’s’ targeted coverage scheme, which provides for the opening of more than 5,000 4G cell sites in rural areas in Metropolitan France by 2027. ‘This inauguration marks a symbolic milestone for the New Deal for Mobile which was established in 2018 on the Government’s initiative, and for the targeted coverage mechanism in particular’. Telcos operating in France ‘each committed to bringing coverage to 5,000 areas, identified by regional authorities and Government departments, and targeting local coverage needs’.

The long-running Microsoft/Activision deal is now in the hands of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). It follows the decision of a US appeals court to reject the request from the Federal Trade Commission to pause the Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Microsoft has argued that commitments given to the EU after CMA’s original decision to block the takeover, including agreeing that Activision games can be streamed for a decade after the merger, has resulted in a change of circumstances. The company has also committed to establishing a monitoring and enforcement regime. The CMA has said it will reach a provisional decision on the restructured deal in early August.

Sources:  The Financial Times, Wired, Euronews, Forbes, CNN,  TechCrunch, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Bloomberg, Economic Times, Ars Technica, Reuters, BBC, Politico, telecom.com, telecommpaper.

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Russell Seekins Russell Seekins Editor Intermedia; Partner, Re:Strategy
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