Amazon haters fear its health gain will cement its power

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Amazon haters fear the company’s healthcare acquisition will cement its power

Antitrust reform supporters are sounding the alarm over Amazon’s expansion into healthcare, warning its deal to buy primary care provider One Medical could further cement the tech giant’s power and give him access to treasure troves of health data.

The companies announced the $3.9 billion deal on Thursday, which “will give Amazon a physical network of offices and healthcare providers, as well as access to the technology the startup has built to allow virtual visits to the doctor”, my colleagues. Rachel Leman and Hamza Chaban report. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Top Capitol Hill antitrust advocates have expressed deep concern that the acquisition poses a threat to competition.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) urged the Federal Trade Commission to “thoroughly investigate” the deal in a letter sent late Thursday. Klobuchar cited what she called “Amazon’s history of business practices that raise serious anticompetitive concerns,” including favoring their own services.

“I also ask that the FTC consider the role of data, including as a potential barrier to entry, given that this proposed agreement could result in the accumulation of highly sensitive personal health data in the hands of a company. already data-intensive,” Klobuchar said. wrote.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another prominent Amazon critic, said the deal “should be of deep concern to American families and antitrust regulators.”

“Amazon already has too much economic power, an abysmal track record with workers, and an alarming clinical track record, raising major questions about the impact this deal could have on consumer prices and health care choices. health,” Warren said in a statement to The Technology 202.

While Amazon’s deal to buy One Medical marks a “major expansion of the tech giant’s shift into healthcare,” as Rachel and Hamza wrote, the vendor is dwarf by healthcare giants like CVS, UnitedHealth and Cigna.

Krista Brownsenior policy analyst at the progressive anti-monopoly group American Economic Liberties Project, said their concern was not that Amazon would instantly become a medical giant, but that the acquisition would give the giant access to reams of data of users – and another step ahead of the competition.

“I think it’s a data set for Amazon, where it’s going to drive their ad market, it’ll just give them one more set of checks on hundreds of thousands of individuals,” she said.

Amazon Spokesperson Angie Quennell said in a statement that “the agreement is not closed and nothing changes today,” including One Medical’s “obligations to comply” with federal laws regarding sensitive health data and other regulations.

“As required by law, Amazon will never share One Medical customers’ personal health information outside of One Medical for the purposes of advertising or marketing other Amazon products and services without the customer’s clear permission” , Quennell added.

Amazon noted in its announcement that the deal is subject to typical regulatory approval.

The deal doesn’t significantly increase Amazon’s market share, but antitrust reform proponents have argued that the tech giants have so much data they serve as a barrier to entry. potential rivals.

It’s a relatively new and untested legal theory in competition policy, the lawyers said, but it’s a theory that could be considered in a lawsuit if regulators follow through and challenge the deal.

under the president Lina Khana prominent critic of Amazon, the FTC has revamped its antitrust probe into Amazon and is reviewing its mergers, including its blockbuster deal with MGM.

Neil Chilson, a senior fellow at the libertarian nonprofit Stand Together, pushed back against the idea that the Amazon acquisition would hurt competition.

Instead, he said, Amazon could be an “upstart” bringing “desperately” needed innovation to the sprawling healthcare industry.

“Amazon will be a very small player… [competing in] one of the most entrenched industries in the country, and I think I welcome that. I think that’s a sign of healthy competition,” said Chilson, who served as the FTC’s acting chief technologist during the Trump administration.

Chilson also said critics exaggerate the risks posed by a company like Amazon accessing more user data and downplay the benefits.

“Data is often a powerful tool for pro-competitive uses, and so the reason a company would often merge is to gain access to more information so that they can serve those consumers holistically,” a- he declared.

Facebook revamps its News Feed to compete with TikTok

The change will elevate content from creators above posts from friends as part of a bid to capture the attention of users from rival TikTok, Naomi Nix reports. Facebook users will still be able to find recent posts from friends, family and groups in a “feed” tab, but the default screen will show content from outside creators, providing posts from the short-form video service Reels and the service. short-lived video Shorts.

“In the last three months of last year, Facebook announced that it had lost daily users for the first time in its 18-year history, sending its stock price plummeting,” Naomi wrote. “While the number of social media users remained stable at the start of this year, company executives said they were focusing their energies on attracting the attention of young people,” Naomi writes. On the other hand, TikTok’s US user base has soared to over 110 million, she reports.

Facebook has named TikTok as a major competitor to push back against claims that it is a monopoly. He also took aim at the shorthand video app by hiring Republican consulting firm Targeted Victory to turn Americans against TikTok, The Post reported this year.

YouTube introduces new ban on misinformation related to abortion

YouTube will no longer allow users to post videos promoting or instructing “unsafe or alternative” ways to abort that health authorities don’t support, according to CNN. Claire Duffy reports. The company also won’t let users post misinformation about the safety of abortion procedures.

The policy change comes as researchers warn that the information abortion seekers find online could be confusing, even dangerous, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade.

YouTube will also direct users searching for and viewing abortion-related videos to health authorities such as the National Library of Medicine, Duffy reports.

FCC targets robocalls promoting auto warranties

The Federal Communications Commission is ordering telecommunications providers to stop forwarding calls from a group of people it says were responsible for 8 billion such calls since 2018, according to CNN. Brian Fong reports. This is the first order that requires providers to stop carrying calls; the FCC had previously informed the telecommunications companies of the calls.

Many robocalls without the recipients’ consent are illegal under US law, CNN reports.

“As part of its program, the group purchased access to nearly half a million phone numbers from more than 200 area codes in the fall and winter of 2020, the FCC said, then used them to trick recipients into thinking the robocalls were from local numbers,” Fung writes. The FCC noted that it continues to make millions of illegal calls daily, Fung reports.

Twitter users imagined the promotional opportunities that could arise from Amazon’s acquisition of One Medical. Journalist Tonya Riley:

Journalist Matthew Zeitlin:

Technology columnist Joanna Stern:

SEC foils Coinbase insider trading case arguing coins are securities (Tory Newmyer)

Amazon breaks lobbying record amid antitrust fight (Bloomberg)

Apple CEO Cook uses his star power to fend off antitrust threat (Bloomberg)

The Chinese owner of TikTok has increased its lobbying spending in the United States by 130% this quarter (CNBC)

GOP AG calls on Google not to limit results from anti-abortion centers (Associated Press)

Activision Blizzard staff come out to protest loss of abortion rights (Shannon Liao)

Leaked document shows how Amazon managers rate employee performance (Insider)

Snap announces plans to cut hiring as it reports dismal results (Financial Times)

Yes, crypto Twitter, the FBI is reading your tweets (The Verge)

  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Rostin Behnam discusses cryptocurrency regulation at a Brookings Institution event at 2 p.m. Monday.
  • A House Homeland Security Committee panel is holding a hearing on the use of facial recognition technology by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
  • Senate Commerce Committee discusses child privacy and safety legislation Wednesday at 10 a.m.

That’s all for today — thank you so much for joining us! Be sure to tell others to subscribe to The Technology 202 here. Get in touch with tips, comments or greetings on Twitter or email.

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