Category Archives: Antitrust

Reported End to Facebook’s ‘Murky’ Deals With News Giants Sparks Call for ‘Truly Fair Marketplace’

“We can’t allow our free press to be captured by tech monopolies,” warned one advocate.

By Brett Wilkins  Published 6-10-2022 by Common Dreams

Image: Simon Steinberger/CC

Press freedom and antitrust advocates on Friday derided both Facebook and corporate media beneficiaries of the tech titan’s multimillion dollar spending spree following reporting that the company is rethinking its investments amid increasing regulatory pressures and a shift away from news partnerships.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook in recent years has annually paid an average of more than $15 million to The Washington Post, as well as $20 million to The New York Times, and over $10 million to the Journal. The Journal deal is part of a larger $20 million agreement. Continue reading

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To Combat Insulin Price Gouging, California Looks Into Generic Drug Production

“Everyone who cares about the future of U.S. domestic policy should pay attention to this effort in California to build a public option for prescription drug manufacturing,” said one expert. “Potentially game-changing.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 6-8-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Brian J. Matis/flickr/CC

With insulin prices in the United States so astronomical that experts have accused the federal government and pharmaceutical industry of violating human rights, California is exploring a plan to produce its own generic version of the lifesaving medicine and make it accessible to millions of people with diabetes.

“Everyone who cares about the future of U.S. domestic policy should pay attention to this effort in California to build a public option for prescription drug manufacturing,” Steph Sterling, vice president of the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank, said Tuesday. Continue reading

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EU Enacts Landmark Social Media Law to End Self-Regulation by Big Tech

“As the U.S. agonizes over misinformation and hate speech on social media and the harm it does to democracy,” said one journalist, the European Union passed the Digital Services Act “to tackle the problem.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 4-23-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Jason Howie/flickr/CC

The European Union on Saturday passed a landmark law that seeks to reduce social media’s harmful effects by requiring Big Tech corporations to quash disinformation and illicit content on their platforms or else face multibillion-dollar fines.

The Digital Services Act (DSA) would compel Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and other platforms “to set up new policies and procedures to remove flagged hate speech, terrorist propaganda, and other material defined as illegal by countries within the European Union,” the New York Times reported. Continue reading

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Digital Rights Groups Hail Record €746 Million Amazon Data Privacy Fine

La Quadrature du Net, whose complaint led to the Luxembourg fine, called the penalty a “first step,” but said that “we need to remain vigilant” in the face of Amazon’s ongoing violations.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-30-2021

Amazon/AWS offices in Luxembourg. Photo: -wuppertaler, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Digital rights advocates on Friday applauded a €746 million fine levied against Amazon by a Luxembourg regulator for the tech giant’s violation of European Union data privacy laws.

The record penalty—which converts to about U.S. $886 million—was imposed on July 16 by CNPD, Luxembourg’s data protection agency, and disclosed in an Amazon regulatory filing (pdf) on Friday, according to Bloomberg. Continue reading

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Lack of Patent Waiver Would Add Over $70 Billion to Cost of Vaccinating World: Oxfam

Most of that money, said a spokesperson for the group, “will go directly into the pockets” of Big Pharma shareholders.

By Jon Queally staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-13-2021

Photo: James Bullock/Twitter

As leaders of the G7 were criticized for failing to rise to the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic during their summit in the United Kingdom this weekend, Oxfam International on Saturday warned that failure of the world’s richest nations to fully embrace a lifting of intellectual property protections for life-saving vaccines could ultimately raise the cost of administering shots to the entire world by as much as $74 billion with most of that money going directly into the wallets of pharmaceutical companies and their wealthy shareholders.

Oxfam calculates that if patent protections were waived by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and vaccine production ramped up worldwide people in low- and middle-income nations could be adequately vaccinated for an estimated cost of $6.5 billion, but that if pharmaceutical companies are allowed to retain their for-profit stranglehold on production and distribution that cost would soar to $80 billion. Continue reading

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Critics Warn $15 Billion Merger of Global Water Giants Would Create ‘Dangerous Corporate Monopoly’

“Veolia’s plan to dominate public water services all across the globe is becoming a terrifying reality.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-12-2021

French-based transnational corporation Veolia agreed in principle to acquire Suez, its main rival, for $15.5 billion on Monday, setting the stage for the creation of a water and waste management juggernaut that critics warn would be a “dangerous corporate monopoly” destined to “hurt consumers and enrich shareholders.”

The Wall Street Journal characterized the deal between the two largest private water corporations in the world, which is not expected to be finalized until May 14, as a profit-seeking attempt to “soak up a global surge in infrastructure and climate-change spending.” Continue reading

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New Report From Rep. Katie Porter Reveals How Big Pharma Pursues ‘Killer Profits’ at the Expense of Americans’ Health

“It’s time we reevaluate the standards for approving these mergers. It’s time we pass legislation to lower drug prices. And it’s time we rethink the structure of leadership at big pharmaceutical companies.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-29-2021

A new report from Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) reveals how Big Pharma uses mergers and acquisitions to increase profits at the expense of Americans’ healthcare.. Screenshot: CNN

Rep. Katie Porter on Friday published a damning report revealing the devastating effects of Big Pharma mergers and acquisitions on U.S. healthcare, and recommending steps Congress should take to enact “comprehensive, urgent reform” of an integral part of a broken healthcare system.

The report, entitled Killer Profits: How Big Pharma Takeovers Destroy Innovation and Harm Patients, begins by noting that “in just 10 years, the number of large, international pharmaceutical companies decreased six-fold, from 60 to only 10.” Continue reading

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‘This Is a Massive Scandal’: Trump FDA Grants Drug Company Exclusive Claim on Promising Coronavirus Drug

“It is insane and unacceptable,” said Bernie Sanders. “We will not tolerate profiteering. Any treatment or vaccine must be made free for all.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-24-2020

Coronavirus. Photo: CDC

As healthcare providers across the U.S. desperately attempt to treat a rapidly growing number of patients with the coronavirus, a pharmaceutical company with ties to the Trump administration has been granted exclusive status for a drug it is developing to treat the illness—a potential windfall for the company that could put the medication out of reach for many Americans.

As The Intercept reported Monday, the Food and Drug Administration granted Gilead Sciences “orphan” drug status for remdesivir, one of several drugs being tested as potential treatments for the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. The designation is generally reserved for drugs that treat rare illnesses affecting fewer than 200,000 Americans—but companies can be eligible if the designation, as in this case of a rapidly spreading virus, is made before a disease spreads beyond that limit. Continue reading

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‘Victory for Farmers’ as Jury Awards Grower $265 Million in Damages From Drift of Monsanto’s Dicamba

“This verdict is just the tip of the iceberg.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-17-2020

Field day participants make their way past dicamba damaged soybeans to hear University of Arkansas System Div of Ag Weed Scientist Jason Norsworthy talk about volatility of dicamba products on Aug 8, 2017. Photo: uacescomm’flickr/CC

German chemicals giant Bayer announced Monday its intention to “swiftly appeal” a U.S. jury’s decision to award a Missouri peach farmer over $265 million in compensation for years of crop losses as a result of drifting dicamba weedkiller.

The legal challenge was the first dicamba suit to go to trial and was brought forth by Bill and Denise Bader, owners of Bader farms. Dicamba is produced by Monsanto, which Bayer acquired in 2018. Continue reading

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‘Stop This Sale’: 11 NGO Leaders at Davos Warn Against Pending Private Equity Takeover of .Org Domain

“The security of civil society should not be entrusted to private equity.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-22-2020

Leaders of top NGOs are protesting the pending sale of the registry that operates the .org domain to a private equity firm. (Image: Andrew Stroehlein/Human Rights Watch/Twitter)

The executive directors of 11 major international nongovernmental organizations on Wednesday added their voices to a swelling chorus opposed to the pending sale of the nonprofit registry that operates the .org top-level domain to a recently established private equity firm.

The NGO leaders came together at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland to unveil a letter (pdf) they sent Tuesday to Andrew Sullivan, president and CEO of the Internet Society (ISOC), and Göran Marby, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Continue reading

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