Daily Digest (10/20)

Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google; Japan Joins US and Europe in Regulating Big-Tech Firms; EU Investigates Instagram for Allegedly Breaking Irish Privacy Laws; 6 Russian Military Officers Charged in Large Hacking Campaign; Russian National Tried in Paris in Bitcoin Fraud. Click “Continue reading” below.

Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

 The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday sued Google for antitrust violations.

In a 64-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, the agency alleged that Google abused its online and advertising dominance to stifle competition and harm consumers, The Associated Press reports. 

“Google is the gateway to the internet and a search-advertising behemoth,” U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen told reporters at a news conference.  “It has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition.”

The action alleges that Google used billions of dollars collected from advertisers to pay cellphone manufacturers to ensure that Google is the default search engine on browsers, according to AP. 

Eleven states, all with Republican attorneys general, joined the federal government in the lawsuit.

In a tweet, Google said: “Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed.

 “People use Google because they choose to — not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”

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Japan Joins US and Europe in Regulating Big-Tech Firms

The head of a Tokyo antitrust watchdog said Monday that Japan would join the U.S. and Europe in efforts to regulate digital platform operators.

Japan Fair-Trade Commission Chairman Kazuyuki Furuya said that Tokyo could open a probe into any business tie-up, including fitness tracker Fitbit, Reuters reports.

“If the size of any merger or business-tie up is big, we can launch an anti-monopoly investigation into the buyer’s process of acquiring a start-up,” Furuya told Reuters.

In August, EU antitrust regulators launched an investigation of Google’s $2.1 billion Fitbit bid.

Furuya added that the agency would conduct research into Japan’s mobile cellphone markets.

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EU Investigates Instagram for Allegedly Breaking Irish Privacy Laws

Instagram is being investigated by Ireland’s data-protection commissioner after allegedly breaking privacy laws.

David Stier, a data scientist, made the claim, BBC News reports, alleging that as many as 60 million minors on Instagram can access business accounts.

Business accounts require users to share personal information like phone numbers and email addresses.

The agency is looking to see if Facebook has a legal basis for processing minors’ personal data, according to the BBC.

“Instagram is a social media platform which is used widely by children in Ireland and across Europe,” said Graham Doyle, a DPC deputy commissioner.

“The DPC has been actively monitoring complaints received from individuals in this area and has identified potential concerns in relation to the processing of children’s personal data on Instagram which require further examination,” he said.

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6 Russian Military Officers Charged in Large Hacking Campaign

Six Russian military officers are accused of trying to disrupt the Winter Olympics, the French election and U.S. hospitals and businesses, according to a U.S. Justice Department indictment unsealed Monday.

The 50-page indictment details attacks on targets including the 2016 U.S. presidential election and a Pennsylvania hospital and pharmaceutical company, The Associated Press reports.

The defendants also were accused of attacking Ukraine’s power grid, France’s 2017 presidential election and Olympic organizers who banned Russian athletes for doping.

“No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously and irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented collateral damage to pursue small tactical advantages as fits of spite,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said at a news conference.

The six defendants are not in custody, but the Justice Department has charged foreign hackers in absentia in the past, according to AP.

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Russian National Tried in Paris in Bitcoin Fraud

The trial of a Russian man who allegedly used ransomware in a bitcoin scam began Monday in Paris.

Twenty victims paid ransoms through Bitcoin, one of the world’s largest digital-currency exchanges, The Associated Press reports.

Alexander Vinnik, who is wanted in the U.S. and Russia, faces up to 10 years in prison over charges of extortion, money laundering and criminal association.

Vinnik targeted French companies, legal offices and local councils between 2016 and 2018, according to AP.

But in court, Vinnik has claimed he only was a technical consultant at Bitcoin and had no knowledge of the illegal activity.

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— By DPN Staff