FTC Oculus Probe Examines Meta for Potential Anticompetitive Practices

Bloomberg has a report (paywalled link) about an FTC Oculus probe launched recently along with multiple states. A paywall-free summary can be found in the link below.

The agency is seeking to explore how Meta may be using market power in the VR space to stifle competition – in particular whether the Oculus app store might be discriminating against third parties selling apps that compete with Meta’s software. The inquiry also includes a probe into sales practices and pricing for the Quest 2 headset, at $299 notably less expensive than many rival models, according to the report.

FTC Rules That This Favored Tactic by News Media is Illegal

Some companies, such as news publications, use a “click to subscribe, call to cancel” tactic to discourage customers from cancelling their service. The FTC says this practice is illegal.

But it’s not just hedge fund-owned publishers that have adopted the subscription practices that have caught the government’s attention. Again, most U.S. news organizations don’t give readers an easy way to cancel online. When I checked — more than a week after the FTC announced it planned to crack down on companies who don’t make it easy to cancel — The New York Times still requires me to talk to someone to unsubscribe, either by starting a live chat or by picking up the phone.

A welcome move from the FTC. Currently, my tactic for this is using a disposable card and cancelling it.

FTC Reveals its Study on Acquisitions From Big Tech

The Federal Trade Commission will change the way it scrutinizes acquisitions from Big Tech. On Friday it released the findings of its decade-long study on deals that weren’t reported.

The FTC reviewed 616 transactions valued at $1 million or more between 2010 and 2019 that were not reported to antitrust authorities by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. 94 of the transactions actually exceeded the dollar size threshold that would require companies to report a deal. The deals may have qualified for other regulatory exemptions. 79% of transactions used deferred or contingent compensation to founders and key employees, and nearly 77% involved non-compete clauses. 36% of the transactions involved assuming some amount of debt or liabilities.

Health Apps Must Warn Users of Data Breaches, Says FTC

The Federal Trade Commission issued a policy statement on Thursday. It says that health apps and wearable companies must warn their users of data breaches or face fines.

In a policy statement adopted during an open meeting, the Commission noted that health apps, which can track everything from glucose levels for those with diabetes to heart health to fertility to sleep, increasingly collect sensitive and personal data from consumers These apps have a responsibility to ensure they secure the data they collect, which includes preventing unauthorized access to such information.

Excellent news. Now they should make sure the fines are high enough to deter repeat offenders (cough T-Mobile).

FTC Settles With App Maker ‘Tapjoy’, Blames Apple in Process

The FTC has reached a settlement with Tapjoy over claims that is used false advertising offers for in-game rewards that weren’t given to users.

But regulators also said Apple and Google helped create the environment that squeezes mobile gaming industry players and incentivizes them to find other monetization models that may have unsavory consequences for consumers.

Tapjoy runs a platform that lets users complete activities, like signing up for a free trial or downloading and running an app, in exchange for in-game virtual currency. It earns commissions from third-party advertisers who want to entice users to perform these tasks.

I think if a company is willing to do “unsavory things” to people, it probably doesn’t need to be forced into doing so. On Apple’s side, Tapjoy possibly ran afoul of review guideline 3.2.2 (vi).