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Exclusive: FTC Chair Lina Khan’s plan to take on Big Tech, in 9 questions

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FTC Chair Lina Khan’s plan to take on Big Tech, in 9 questions

#FTC #Chair #Lina #Khans #plan #Big #Tech #questions

Lina Khan’s year-long tenure heading up the Federal Trade Commission — she was sworn in on June 15, 2021 — has been unorthodox, to say the least. Khan is arguably the highest-profile chair in the agency’s history, and her appointment was surprising in more ways than one.

Until her appointment, Khan, just 32 at the time, was best known for her law school paper “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” which detailed how antitrust laws and the courts’ interpretation of them over the last several decades didn’t adequately address the business models of the digital platforms that dominate the economy and our lives today. She became the face of the progressive antitrust reform movement, and her ascendancy to the top of the FTC was seen as a major victory for it. Now she has a chance to reshape one of the country’s two antitrust enforcement arms — the Justice Department is the other — into an agency that can address the problems her previous work laid out.

It’s an auspicious time for the chairperson: The Senate recently confirmed the agency’s fifth commissioner, Alvaro Bedoya, finally giving Khan a Democratic majority for the foreseeable future. That means she no longer has to limit her actions to what her Republican commissioners will vote for. We should soon see what that enables her to do and which companies and business practices she’ll take on.

But not everyone is on board. Republicans have made no secret of their distaste for Khan’s approach, and it’s likely that they’ll take control of one or both houses of Congress after the midterms. That could make Khan’s job harder.

As her second year at the helm of the FTC approaches, Khan spoke to Recode’s Sara Morrison and Jason Del Rey about why antitrust reform is important, what her priorities are, how she’s approaching the consumer protection side of the FTC’s work, and if she’s enjoying herself. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The need for antitrust reform is often framed as a way to counter threats to the economy and democracy that massive companies — especially very powerful tech companies — present. But the average American may only care about what affects them personally in the short term, and a lot of them genuinely like the cheaper or even free stuff they get from some of these companies. What’s your pitch to them about why they should care about this? What are the direct and immediate benefits to them?

As a general matter, we enforce the laws as they already stand. And so it’s our obligation to make sure we’re fully exercising our statutory obligations to prevent unfair methods of competition and monopolistic practices. The tech context, in particular, can have a whole host of ramifications for Americans. It can affect whether people can start their own business and enter the market, or whether they’re going to be squashed out immediately. It can affect how much people are getting paid, as consolidation among employers can lead to a reduction in how much people are being paid, as well as their working conditions and the precarity of their work.

It also affects innovation and what types of products and services are available in the first place. We want to have an economy that is open, that’s competitive, where the next successful startup and entrepreneur who brings a product to market that consumers really love is able to thrive, rather than get squashed out at the inception. Those were some of the key goals animating our antitrust laws and the vision that the lawmakers had when passing these laws.

Where are we seeing consumers being harmed by some of these services?

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We’ve seen, particularly in the tech context, how a lack of competition can also contribute to the degradation of privacy. One of the claims as noted in our Facebook complaint was that in some instances, the lack of competition that users have had ended up leading to worse privacy. When Facebook was able to engage in data practices that users may want to extricate themselves from, they found that, because this company already acquired Instagram and WhatsApp, their alternative options really had been eliminated. Those are all really important factors that affect people in their day-to-day lives.

When companies don’t face robust competition, or when they’re allowed to just squash out competition, they can become too big to care. They can impose all sorts of terms or contractual provisions that really just leave Americans in a position of take it or leave it. And in as much as these products and services, these digital tools, are becoming essential to navigating day-to-day life, we want to make sure that people have choices. They’re not just stuck in place with a company that can do whatever it wants.

A lot of antitrust advocates and experts tell me that you have this hugely ambitious vision for the FTC but relatively little time and resources to carry it out, especially when you’re going against Big Tech companies that have plenty of both. How are you picking your battles here?

I’ll say a couple of things upfront. We have certain principles that we’re using to focus our priorities and where we’re devoting resources. For example, we’re focused on dominant firms. We’re focused on firms that may be sitting upstream, like dominant intermediaries that may be facilitating a whole set of harms. We’re really trying to avoid looking at one-off effects and instead trying to understand what are some of the systemic causes of these harmful practices, be it certain types of business models, be it certain types of conflicts of interest, be it just structural dominance by itself, and really targeting those root causes to make sure that we’re able to be most effective with the limited resources we have.

How are you setting the FTC for the future?

In addition to vigorously enforcing the law and the tools that we currently have, we’re also making sure that, where needed, we’re updating our tools. So this is why our project to revise the merger guidelines is so essential. This is the key enforcement manual that the antitrust agencies use to determine and assess and analyze whether mergers and acquisitions are lawful or unlawful. We, with the DOJ, in January launched a revision of this process to make sure that these guidelines are really reflecting the commercial realities that we live with in our new economy. There are all sorts of ways in which the economy that we have today as well as the business dynamics and incentives that are created by new types of business models are totally scrambling business strategy. That really requires us to update our approach when we’re assessing mergers — be it in the context of digital markets or all sorts of other markets.

As we see more and more of the economy digitize, these types of issues are not just going to be limited to what we currently think of high-tech markets; it’s really going to be industry-wide. So we need to make sure that our tools, our enforcement manuals, are fully reflecting market realities. And also reflecting controlling law — we want to make sure that we are not handicapping ourselves.

How does now having all five commissioners — three of them Democrats — change your goals or your plans for the rest of your tenure?

I imagine that this will be a very active year ahead. Oftentimes these types of initiatives can take a lot of time to come to fruition. And I think this upcoming year is when we do plan to see them come to fruition. That includes, for example, the merger guidelines.

We’ve shared publicly that user privacy and commercial surveillance practices that may be undermining user privacy or security is a big area of focus. And we’re figuring out how we can use all of the tools at our disposal, including potential market-wide rules. So that’s something we continue to consider. We’ve also shared publicly that figuring out whether we need to complement our case-by-case enforcement approach to antitrust with potential competition rules is something that remains top of mind for us so that we can make sure we are providing predictability, clarity, and also ensuring that our enforcement is more efficient.

Those are some top items, but I fully expect that we’ll also continue to see major lawsuits culminate in the coming year, again focused on what we see as areas where Americans are most suffering from unlawful conduct in the marketplace.

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The FTC’s role also includes consumer protection. One area you’ve taken action in relates to online reviews. How can you ensure that, as more shopping moves online, more Americans aren’t getting duped by fake reviews or misleading reviews?

We’ve taken a few steps in particular with regards to the issue of fake reviews. We brought an enforcement action against Fashion Nova, where we had alleged that Fashion Nova had suppressed reviews, and put companies on notice that that type of conduct is illegal. We also developed what’s known as a notice of penalty offense on fake reviews, where we basically were able to put hundreds of businesses on notice about how these types of fake reviews and suppression of reviews is illegal. Once we send out these notices, any subsequent violation by those same actors can result in civil penalties. So those types of actions can be extremely significant in terms of making sure parties are on notice.

But then also we are ensuring that we have the ability to impose civil penalties and to deter firms from engaging in these practices in the first place. We’re also considering whether to update and tighten our guidelines around fake reviews or manipulative reviews or suppression of reviews. We put out a notice seeking public comment in particular on this to the endorsement guides, which is the set of guidelines that businesses look to to identify what’s legal or what’s illegal in this space. So we’re actively looking to crack down on fake reviews: They have proliferated online and are really misleading users. So we want to make sure that we’re updating those guides and market participants are on notice.

I just saw that it’s going to be an antitrust summer, with possibly two bipartisan antitrust bills set to become law. Those would give you more authority, so how does your mission change? And what happens if you don’t get any of them?

We stand ready to enforce and administer any laws that Congress passes. There are a whole set of legislative proposals being considered, which would range from increasing our resources and our budget to restoring what’s known as our 13(b) authority, which gives us the ability to get back money for consumers when they’ve been defrauded or when they’ve been subject to unlawful practices. Last year, there was a Supreme Court decision, AMG, that severely limited our ability to actually obtain money back for consumers. That’s made a big difference and really harmed our ability to make sure people are whole when they’re victims of unlawful conduct.

There are obviously a whole set of legislative proposals around digital markets. I think those efforts are incredibly important. And it’s heartening to see how much bipartisan agreement there is around how important these markets are and how a lack of fair competition in these markets can really undermine competitiveness and really harm Americans. So I’m extremely supportive of those efforts.

Something we hear from small businesses is that they’re frustrated by how big online marketplaces treat them and the lack of government intervention to protect the little guys. I’m curious if you have a message to the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of small online merchants in this country who feel like they need more intervention from the government when it comes to dealing with big marketplaces?

One of my priorities has been to make sure that the FTC is being holistic in how it’s identifying and diagnosing harm. Obviously consumers can be harmed by monopolistic or unfair deceptive practices, but so can independent businesses, so can workers. And we need to make sure that we’re using our tools to fully protect all Americans, including businesses, where they’re being harmed by anticompetitive or unlawful practices.

We’ve been able to really move forward with key enforcement actions where dominant businesses have been abusing their power against independent or smaller businesses, and we’ve been able to secure important remedies in those instances. There was one case in particular, involving a company called CafePress, where businesses were really subject to and the victims of unlawful conduct, and we thought it was important to act there.

We fully recognize that monopolistic practices harm a whole set of Americans, including businesses, and we want to make sure that our markets are open and competitive so that businesses are able to compete fairly and if they have a product or service that they want to bring to market, that they’re not subject to the whims of a dominant firm that can squash them.

Are you having fun?

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This job is a tremendous honor. It’s an incredible opportunity. I think there’s an astounding amount of excitement out in the world around the FTC’s mission. The FTC is on the front lines of some of the most urgent problems that Americans face. And I’m incredibly excited about our ability to bring all of our tools to bear on our ambitious agenda.

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Exclusive: Best Car Insurance for Military and Veterans for July 2022 – CNET – TalkOfNews.com

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Best Car Insurance for Military and Veterans for July 2022     - CNET

#Car #Insurance #Military #Veterans #July #CNET

If you’re an active-duty military member or a veteran (or sometimes their family members), there are a couple of good places to check for car insurance. Some companies offer discounts for vets while other auto insurance carriers create policies specifically for them. Military members and vets may have access to a variety of cheaper car insurance options that aren’t available to the general public, often with rates hundreds of dollars below the national average. 

Car insurance companies that exclusively cover service members and veterans — whether you’re a sailor, Marine, soldier, airman, Coast Guardsman, National Guard member or reservist — provide a pricing scale that larger insurers typically can’t match. Eligibility for the families of service members or veterans will depend on the carrier. 

If you fall into any of these categories, it’s still critical to compare rates and policies. “Current and former military [personnel] should shop for insurance just like everyone else,” said Dan Karr, CEO of ValChoice, an independent platform for insurance analytics and ratings. The way a provider handles claims should also be an important consideration when researching insurance policies, Karr added.

Here are some of our top car insurance company picks for military members, veterans and their families. 

Best car insurance companies for members of the military and veterans

USAA

Active-duty military service members, veterans and their immediate family members are eligible to apply for United Services Automobile Association insurance. If you fall into one of these categories, you may find yourself eligible for cheaper rates than you might find elsewhere. Customers who switch their auto insurance policies to USAA saved $725 on average per year, according to USAA’s website. Moreover, USAA’s average annual premium for full coverage is among the most competitive, coming in at $1,209 compared to $1,771 for the national average, according to Bankrate.

The company has been around since 1922, when 25 US Army officers decided to insure each other’s vehicles. Today, the insurance company serves millions; the insurer’s low car insurance rates are a big draw, but USAA’s high customer satisfaction scores from J.D. Power surveys are also alluring. Its overall customer satisfaction score averages to 884 across US regions; higher than the industry average of 834. 

The bottom line: USAA is a worthy option to look into if you’re eligible to buy a policy. 

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Geico doesn’t quite match USAA’s rates: The company’s average annual premium for full coverage sits at $1,297 compared to USAA’s $1,225, according to Bankrate. Nonetheless, Geico’s rates fall well below the $1,674 national average, and its military discount makes for a good insurance choice if you’re active or retired military.

All active-duty and retired personnel, as well as members of the National Guard or Military Reserves, are eligible for up to 15% off their total insurance rate premium. Moreover, Geico offers an additional Emergency Deployment Discount to customers who deploy into a military base in imminent danger pay areas, as designated by the Department of Defense. The company has a special customer service team dedicated to military assistance, as well as a toll-free line dedicated to serving military customers — 1-800-MILITARY. 

Check out our full review of Geico Auto Insurance.

Armed Forces Insurance

Armed Forces Insurance has deep roots — it was founded in 1887 by military leaders — and while it’s not as well-known as USAA, it’s been around longer and has broader eligibility requirements, making it easier for more people to qualify for coverage.

AFI expands its coverage beyond active-duty and retired service members — and their children and spouses — to the Department of Defense civilian employees, officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Public Health Service. If you fall into one of those groups (or have in the past), AFI may be worth a look.

However, one of the most glaring differences between AFI and USAA is reflected in the companies’ customer satisfaction and ratings. While USAA routinely scores high in customer satisfaction, feedback on AFI is more divided. AM Best has given AFI a B+ financial strength rating compared to USAA’s A++. Moreover, AFI receives more than 3.5 times the complaints compared to the national industry average, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners,

Other carriers with notable discounts


Arbella

Arbella is a regional insurance company offering car, home and business insurance policies in the New England area, though its auto policies are only offered in Massachusetts and Connecticut. If you live in either of these states, Abrella is worth exploring because the company offers up to a 10% discount for any active-duty service member deployed more than 100 miles away from your vehicle.

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Farmers

Farmers extends its “Affinity discount” for military customers who are active duty, active reserve, retired or honorably discharged veterans. Pair this discount with others from Farmers’ robust list, including good payer (history of paying in full, on time), multicar and ePolicy discounts, and you’re well on your way to bringing your annual premiums down.

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual is another insurer that offers a robust set of discounts, including one that extends to active, retired and reserve members of the US armed forces. Though Liberty Mutual’s average annual premium for full coverage sits a bit higher than the national average using the military discount along with homeowner, bundling multicar, good student or early shopper discounts can help make its policies more affordable. 

Best car insurance for military and veterans, compared

Company Benefits A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating*
USAA Family coverage, low rates, award-winning service and coverage. A++
Geico Military personnel, emergency deployment, dedicated hotline for military customers. A++
Armed Forces Insurance Department of Defense civilian employees and NOAA and PHS commissioned officers eligible. B+

*A.M. Best financial strength rating scale runs from D (lowest) to A++ (highest).

FAQs

What is the best car insurance for military members?

The best carrier will differ for everyone, depending on your specific situation, how much coverage and what kinds of coverage you want. According to our research, USAA and Geico offer among the most competitive rates out there for service members, and they both cover a wide range of coverage options and discounts to help formulate a policy that fits your needs and budget.

Whichever auto insurer you choose, your military service may potentially mean savings. For that reason, it’s important to always check your eligibility and inquire about the rates and discounts that service members, veterans and their families can get.

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What should you do when applying for car insurance as a service member or veteran?

  • Look for quotes from a variety of insurance companies. Make sure to include companies that offer military discounts, as well as those that only serve the military.
  • Choose the plan that makes the most sense for you, based on eligible car insurance discounts, the company’s customer service rating, auto claims satisfaction, coverage options and the final price.
  • Gather documented proof of your identity and military service such as your military ID or DD-214 (or the service of your family member, along with proof of relation).
  • Submit the appropriate documents to your insurer of choice, then wait for final approval.

How can you save on car insurance as a veteran?

Some carriers only serve members of the military, such as USAA and AFI. These insurers generally have competitive rates compared to other mainstream carriers available to the general public. If USAA and AFI don’t serve your needs, mainstream carriers like Geico, Liberty Mutual and Farmers also offer discounts for military members. If you pair a low premium rate with a variety of discounts, including a military discount, you may be able to bring your annual premiums down substantially and save on car insurance in the long run.

How do you get a military discount on car insurance? What documents do you need to show you’re eligible?

The requirements to receive a military discount differ from insurer to insurer. For example, while Geico simply gives all active-duty military and retired personnel up to a 15% discount, Arbella will only apply up to a 10% discount if you’re an active-duty military member that is deployed more than 100 miles away from your vehicle. You’ll want to check what each insurer’s parameters are for qualifying for a military discount. 

That said, the documents to prove your eligibility for military discounts are similar across the board. You’ll likely need to show one or more of the following documents:

  • DD-214
  • NGB-22
  • Military orders if you are actively serving
  • Academy appointment letter or ROTC contract
  • Discharge certificate
  • Letters or statements showing membership in an eligible military group, such as the Navy League of the United States or the Armed Forces Benefit Association.

CNET reviews insurance carriers and products by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each category. For auto insurance, we examine average annual premium rates for full coverage, consumer complaints, collision repair scores, the carrier’s financial strength, auto claims satisfaction and overall customer satisfaction. For this list, we also investigated available discounts for military members, veterans and their families. Our data comes from a multitude of sources. 

Auto insurance rates come from Bankrate, which gathers data using Quadrant Information Services. We also use both J.D. Power annual surveys that collect data on customer auto claims satisfaction and overall customer satisfaction.

Consumer complaints are taken from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which collects consumer complaints across states, indexing complaints on a scale that takes into account the industry average. We collect the financial strength rating of each carrier from the A.M. Best Rating.

Last, we collected collision repair scores from the Crash Network Insurer Report Card, which collects data from collision repair professionals, including mechanics, to gauge the quality of collision claims service from insurance carriers.

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More car insurance advice:

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

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Exclusive: Hyundai shares first look at the much-awaited Ioniq 6 electric sedan – TalkOfNews.com

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Hyundai shares first look at the much-awaited Ioniq 6 electric sedan

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Forward-looking: Hyundai is slowly climbing in EV market share in the US and Europe, and it has grand ambitions to capture seven percent of the global EV market by 2030. While a full reveal is scheduled for next month, the South Korean automaker is already teasing everyone with a first look at the much-awaited Ioniq 6 all-electric sedan.

Not too long ago, Hyundai was in talks with Apple to build an electric car. The South Korean automaker seemed interested in lending its expertise to the Cupertino giant, which had long been rumored to be working on a self-driving car. However, those discussions quickly fell apart as Apple executives were worried about information leaks. Similarly, Hyundai executives remained divided on whether or not they saw Apple as a great fit for a potential partnership.

Earlier this year, Hyundai stopped research and development on combustion engines, adding to a growing list of companies committed to going all-electric in the coming years. During its 2022 CEO Investor Day forum, the Hyundai Motor Group presented its bold electrification roadmap through 2030 that includes no less than 17 new battery-powered electric vehicles.

Today, Hyundai offered the first look at its upcoming all-electric sedan, the Ioniq 6. It looks a lot like the Prophecy concept EV it showcased back in 2020, and as noted by Top Gear, it seems to be inspired by classic, streamlined designs from the 1920s and 1930s, such as the Stout Scarab or the Tatra 87.

Details are scarce now, as Hyundai wants to make a full reveal on July 14. Still, the company did tease an ultra-low drag coefficient of just 0.21, which is among the lowest you can get with most cars on the market today. That’s thanks to the streamlined design with a low nose and active air flaps, among other things.

The Ioniq 6 shares the same E-GMP platform as the Ioniq 5 crossover, which is rated for up to 315 miles on a single charge, and since the Ioniq 5 is a smaller, low-drag car, it will not only be cheaper but might also offer more range.

The cocoon-shaped interior features sustainable materials, and a couple of touchscreens give it a futuristic look. However, Hyundai design chief Sangyup Lee told Ars Technica the company opted for physical buttons for things like audio and climate controls.

“The touchscreen is great when this car is [in] stationary condition, but when you’re moving, touchscreens can be dangerous. So we always think about the right balance, user experience, and the buttons and the combination with the voice activation together. In the future, obviously, voice activation is going to play the major role versus touchscreen, but this is still in transition. For us, anything that relates to the safety, we use hardware. Anything not related to safety will use a touch interface.”

Production of the Ioniq 6 is expected to start next month in South Korea. In the meantime, Hyundai is also spending $10 billion to accelerate electrification and autonomous vehicle development in the US, $5.5 billion of which will go towards building a battery manufacturing facility in Georgia.

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Exclusive: Substack CEO says he’s ‘very sorry’ about laying off 13 people – TalkOfNews.com

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Substack CEO says he’s ‘very sorry’ about laying off 13 people

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Substack is the latest tech company to announce layoffs, with the company’s CEO Chris Best tweeting on Wednesday that he’s letting 13 workers go. According to Axios, that’s around 14 percent of Substack’s workforce. In his letter and follow-up tweets, Best cites “market conditions” as the reason behind the layoffs.

He also admits that the move may be a surprise to some employees. “Not so long ago, I told you all that our plan was to grow the team and not do layoffs,” he says, also noting that the company is “still hiring for specific key roles” and has money saved. However, Best says that the company needs to change tactics, as it could be facing “an extended period” where the economy goes from bad to worse. He says that the layoffs are one of several changes the company has made to make sure it’s in “a strong financial position.”

According to The New York Times, some of the employees laid off were involved in human resources and writer support. The report also says that Substack recently halted efforts to secure funding from investors, but that its revenue is still growing.

In April, Substack faced a minor controversy around its hiring efforts when its vice president of communications tweeted a hiring link while noting a specific type of employee she said the company didn’t want. “If you’re a Twitter employee who’s considering resigning because you’re worried about Elon Musk pushing for less regulated speech… please do not come work here,” she said. The company has historically said that it places a lot of importance on free speech.

Substack is far from the only company laying off a significant percentage of its workers in the past month or two. Companies like Tesla, Netflix, Klarna, Better.com, and Cameo have all cut jobs, as have several large crypto firms.


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