- Commission publishes discussion paper on abuse of dominance +/-
(RAPID) The European Commission has published a Staff Discussion Paper on the application of EC Treaty competition rules on the abuse of a dominant market position (Article 82). The Discussion Paper is designed to promote a debate as to how EU markets are best protected from dominant companies' exclusionary conduct, conduct which risks weakening competition on a market. The paper suggests a framework for the continued rigorous enforcement of Article 82, building on the economic analysis carried out in recent cases, and setting out one possible methodology for the assessment of some of the most common abusive practices, such as tying, and rebates and discounts. Other forms of abuse, such as discriminatory and exploitative conduct, will be the subject of further work by the Commission in 2006. The Commission is inviting comments on the discussion paper by 31 March 2006.
- EU - Commission clears acquisition of O2 by Telefónica, subject to conditions +/-
(RAPID) The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of UK telecommunications company O2 by the Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica. The Commission was concerned that the acquisition would result in distortions of competition in the market for international roaming services, in particular in the UK. In order to remove the Commission's concerns, Telefónica has undertaken to leave the FreeMove alliance. In light of this commitment, the Commission has concluded that the transaction will not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any part of it.
- EU - Commission opens inquiry into subsidy for digital decoders for terrestrial TV in Italy +/-
(RAPID) The European Commission has launched an in-depth investigation under EC Treaty state aid rules into subsidies for digital decoders granted by Italy in 2004 and 2005. The measures provide public grants to buyers of decoders which receive programmes in digital terrestrial technology. The subsidy is not technology-neutral because although it is also offered for decoders using cable technology, it is not available for decoders using satellite broadcasting. The Commission's investigation will aim at establishing whether these incentives are liable to distort competition. The Commission received two complaints from terrestrial and satellite television operators.
- EU - Consultation on damages for breaches of EU competition law +/-
(RAPID) The European Commission has published a Green Paper on how to facilitate actions for damages caused by violations of EC Treaty competition rules. The Green Paper identifies certain obstacles to actions for damages by injured parties in national courts, such as access to evidence and the quantification of damages, and presents various options for debate for their removal. Comments on the Green Paper can be submitted by 21 April 2006. see also frequently asked questions.
- EU - Microsoft could face 2m a day fine over competition ruling +/-
(Guardian) The European commission significantly raised the stakes in its protracted legal battle with Microsoft by threatening to fine the world's biggest software group 2m a day for non-compliance with anti-trust sanctions. The commission, which fined Microsoft a record 497m in March 2004, chose the first anniversary of the decision by the court of first instance (CFI), Europe's second-highest court, to demand the group immediately enacted 'interim remedies' (the sanctions), pending a full appeal. see Commission Press Release.
- UK - Cable merger and Sky deal cleared +/-
(Guardian) The merger of cable giants NTL and Telewest and BSkyB's acquisition of broadband company Easynet were both cleared today by the competition watchdog. The Office of Fair Trading decided neither deal needed to be referred to the Competition Commission.
- US - N.Y. subpoenas Warner Music, rivals +/-
(New York Times) New York's attorney general is investigating whether the four record companies that dominate the industry have violated antitrust laws in the pricing of songs sold online. Eliot Spitzer's office recently began serving subpoenas on the major record companies. The companies are Universal Music Group, a unit of Vivendi Universal; Sony BMG Music Entertainment, a joint venture of Sony and Bertelsmann; the EMI Group; and the Warner Music Group.
- CN - Internet porn: China says it's winning war +/-
(Reuters) China is winning the war on Internet pornography but it will be hard to eradicate entirely as many Web sites are based outside of the country, a senior police official said. China routinely blocks access to Internet sites on sensitive subjects such as self-ruled Taiwan, which China regards as its own, and the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations, which were crushed by the military with heavy loss of life. Regulations also target sites that publish fabricated information and content deemed to harm national security. Police had detained 221 people and shut down almost 600 domestic pornographic Web sites as of the end of November.
- CN - Microsoft Shuts Blog's Site After Complaints by Beijing +/-
(New York Times) Microsoft has shut the blog site of a well-known Chinese blogger who uses its MSN online service in China after he discussed a high-profile newspaper strike. The decision is the latest in a series of measures in which some of America's biggest technology companies have cooperated with the Chinese authorities to censor Web sites and curb dissent or free speech online as they seek access to China's booming Internet marketplace. See alos
Microsoft takes down Chinese blogger (Rebecca MacKinnon).
- DE - 15.000 Euro Bußgeld gegen Internet-Anbieter wegen Posenfotos +/-
(Heise) Ein Internet-Anbieter muss 15.000 Euro wegen unzulässiger und jugendgefährdender Angebote im Netz zahlen. Die Bayerische Landeszentrale für neue Medien (BLM) verhängte ein entsprechendes Bußgeld. Außerdem dürfe der Anbieter die Seiten der insgesamt 15 Angebote nicht weiter im Internet verbreiten. Mittlerweile liefen mehr als 40 Verfahren gegen bayerische Internet-Anbieter, erläuterte BLM-Präsident Wolf-Dieter Ring.
- UK - Company fined £40,000 over Crazy Frog advertisements +/-
(Guardian) mBlox, the company that supplied the Crazy Frog ringtone for mobile phone users has been fined £40,000 by the premium rate telephone services regulator Icstis and told to pay back consumers who were unaware they had signed up for a subscription service. The Crazy Frog phenomenon took the country by storm during summer and spawned a number one hit - a UK-first for a ringtone. Thousands of mobile phone users, particularly children, texted the company to download the catchy tone. Many thought they were buying a one-off product, unaware they were signing up to a subscription service that would cost them up to £5 a week.
- DE: Kinder- und Jugendschutz - Online-Handbuch +/-
(BAJ) Das Online-Handbuch erläutert wichtige Begriffe des Kinder- und Jugendschutzes und ist im Zusammenhang mit der Erarbeitung des von der Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Kinder- und Jugendschutz herausgegebenen und von Bruno W. Nikles, Sigmar Roll, Dieter Spürck und Klaus Umbach bei Luchterhand verfassten Kommentars zum Jugendschutzrecht entstanden. Das Handbuch folgt der Idee, von den Begriffen ausgehend, weitere Hinweise auf Informationen zum Kinder- und Jugendschutz, auf einschlägige Institutionen und Organisationen, Materialien und Literatur zugänglich zu machen.
- Kids & Webcams: Terrible trend +/-
(Net Family News) The story resulting from the New York Times's six-month-long investigation starts with Justin Berry, who got his start at age 13 buying a Webcam to meet other teenage friends online. Within weeks he was getting paid $50 'to sit bare-chested in front of his computer for three minutes' for a man who helped him instantly set up a PayPal account. Over five years, Justin developed an audience of 1,500 that paid him 'hundreds of thousands of dollars.' Worse: Justin's activities were only part of the 'Webcam Matrix,' a term dubbed by another teenager cited by the Times, who, also for money, operates his own site of self-published child porn. The Times article is the first I've seen in 8+ years of following reportage on kids and tech pointing to a trend or a generalized pattern of actions and genre of Web sites. The pattern of behavior and sites/blogs, on the teenagers' part, are about money, naivete, the need to connect, or combinations of the above. The pattern of actions on the adults' part are well known to law enforcement. What was much less known is how wide-spread self-published child porn has become. "Easy money" for teens is aided by Internet companies large and small "wittingly and unwittingly" (the latter including PayPal and Amazon, but non-financial services and technologies are involved too, of course).
- DE - Rivals pressing Telekom on all sides +/-
(International Herald Tribune) For Deutsche Telekom, December has brought two potentially strong competitors: the largest German discount supermarket chain, Aldi, and the country's largest cable operator, Kabel Deutschland. Both companies are raising the stakes in the largest European telecommunications market, where Telekom leads in fixed-line, mobile and high-speed Internet service. Aldi began selling prepaid mobile phone service. Kabel Deutschland is investing E500 million, or $600 million, through 2008 to upgrade its cable television lines to sell high-speed Internet service. That is going to raise the heat on Deutsche Telekom, which is one of the most dominant West European former monopolies on its home turf.
- It's Microsoft's turn to be jilted at the altar +/-
(New York Times) Time Warner is expected to announce that it will renew its three-year-old partnership with Google as the provider of search technology. The deal, in which Google will invest $1 billion for a 5 percent stake in AOL, will also significantly expand AOL's advertising opportunities on Google sites, among other things. The turn of events shows just how much Google - hotter now than Netscape was nine years ago - has supplanted Microsoft as the force to be reckoned with in technology. And it raises questions about Microsoft's stated goal of becoming the leader in Internet searching, as well as about its emerging plans to offer more online services under a new brand, Windows Live. see also Google's deal on AOL is Microsoft's setback (New York Times).
- New tune for digital music in 2006 +/-
(BBC) Many people are likely to be unwrapping digital music players as they gather for the annual present-fest this Christmas. For the record label, the battle is to persuade people to pay for the music they put on their machines. For consumers and critics of the way the music industry is handling the transition to digital music, the battle is to convince them to be a whole lot more radical.