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    Twitter held in contempt, fined $350K over Trump data delay / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 9 August - 21:17

Twitter held in contempt, fined $350K over Trump data delay

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto )

Today, an unsealed court document revealed that, earlier this year, a federal judge held Twitter (now called X) in contempt of court. The judge imposed $350,000 in sanctions.

Sanctions were applied after the social media platform delayed compliance with a federal search warrant that required Twitter to hand over Donald Trump's Twitter data without telling the former president about the warrant for 180 days.

At first, Twitter resisted producing Trump's data and argued that the government's nondisclosure order violated the First Amendment and the Stored Communications Act. However, US circuit judge Florence Pan wrote that the court was largely unpersuaded by Twitter's arguments, mostly because the government's interest in Trump's data as part of its ongoing January 6 investigation was "unquestionably compelling."

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    In win for Google, judge dismisses many claims in DOJ monopoly case / ArsTechnica · Monday, 7 August - 19:02

In win for Google, judge dismisses many claims in DOJ monopoly case

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto )

Over the weekend, a US district court judge decided to narrow the scope of the federal government's massive years-long monopoly case against Google.

In his opinion unsealed Friday, Judge Amit Mehta dismissed one of the more significant claims raised in the case brought by the Justice Department and the attorneys general from 38 states that alleges that Google rigged search results to boost its own products over those of competitors like Amazon, OpenTable, Expedia, or eBay. Mehta said that these claims were "raised only by the Colorado plaintiffs" and failed to show evidence of anticompetitive effects, relying only on the "opinion and speculation" of antitrust legal expert Jonathan Baker, who proposed a theory of anticompetitive harm.

"Simply put, there is no record evidence of anticompetitive harm in the relevant markets" resulting from Google allegedly limiting competitors' visibility in search results, Mehta said.

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    YouTuber who crashed plane admits he did it for money and views / ArsTechnica · Friday, 12 May - 19:39 · 1 minute

Screenshot from Trevor Jacob's YouTube video "I Crashed My Airplane."

Enlarge / Screenshot from Trevor Jacob's YouTube video "I Crashed My Airplane." (credit: TrevorJacob on YouTube )

A YouTuber who deliberately crashed a plane to "gain notoriety and make money" has agreed to plead guilty to obstructing a federal investigation, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced yesterday. In his plea agreement, California pilot Trevor Jacob admitted to "deliberately destroying" the plane wreckage and repeatedly lying to officials.

The crimes of destruction and concealment with intent to impede a federal investigation carry a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a potential fine of up to $250,000. The Los Angeles district court may impose a lesser sentence due to the plea deal, though.

Jacob is scheduled to appear in court in the coming weeks, the DOJ reported. A DOJ public information officer, Ciaran McEvoy, told Ars that Jacob has not yet pleaded guilty. After an initial court appearance—essentially a bond hearing—a change of plea hearing will be scheduled. If Jacob pleads guilty at that hearing, a federal judge will schedule a sentencing hearing several months later. From there, Jacob would meet with the US Probation Office, which will draft a confidential pre-sentencing report recommending the sentence that the office thinks he deserves. Jacob and the prosecutors can either agree or disagree with that sentencing report, and then, ultimately, a judge will determine what sentence is imposed.

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    $1.5M crypto scheme leads to 2-year prison term for ex-Coinbase manager / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 10 May - 16:07

$1.5M crypto scheme leads to 2-year prison term for ex-Coinbase manager

Enlarge (credit: SOPA Images / Contributor | LightRocket )

Yesterday, a former Coinbase product manager, Ishan Wahi, was sentenced to two years in prison for running the first cryptocurrency insider trading scheme investigated by the United States Department of Justice.

Wahi had pleaded guilty after Coinbase and the FBI found that he provided confidential information on upcoming Coinbase crypto asset listings to his brother, Nikhil, and his friend Sameer Ramani. The multiple tipoffs led to profits of approximately $1.5 million as the men went undetected for 10 months, trading 55 digital assets ahead of Coinbase listing announcements that generally caused huge spikes in asset market valuation.

The US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, condemned Wahi's actions, saying that he "violated the trust placed in him by his employer by tipping others with valuable confidential information regarding Coinbase’s planned token listings."

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    FTC divided on how to sue Facebook for antitrust violations, reports find / ArsTechnica · Monday, 30 November, 2020 - 20:32

Giant monitors displaying the Facebook logo hang from the ceiling of an empty convention center.

Enlarge / All Facebook, no matter which way you look. (credit: Michael Short | Bloomberg | Getty Images )

After well over a year spent investigating Facebook, state and federal regulators are more than ready to start launching a slate of cases against Facebook, new reports say—that is, as soon as the agencies can agree on how they actually want to do it.

New suits against Facebook should come before the end of January, The Wall Street Journal writes. Both the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of attorneys general for 47 states and territories are expected to take some kind of action.

The state and the federal probes are basically looking into two overall buckets of potentially anticompetitive behavior. The first has to do with Facebook's effects on other businesses that could or do compete with it. That's the investigation that delves into mergers and acquisitions, both large and small , as well as Facebook's behavior toward companies that refuse a buyout .

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    Trump admin. sends Congress its blueprint for weakening Section 230 / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 23 September, 2020 - 20:30

Cartoon hands hold out a band-aid over the words Section 230.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images )

The Department of Justice today dropped a proposed "recalibration" of one of the most important laws governing the US Internet into Congress's lap and urged legislators to act to remove a liability protection on which nearly every website and app currently relies.

Attorney General Bill Barr sent the proposed legislation—an extension of his June wish list —to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence (in his role as President of the Senate) this morning.

"For too long Section 230 has provided a shield for online platforms to operate with impunity," Barr said in a written statement. "Ensuring that the internet is a safe, but also vibrant, open, and competitive environment is vitally important to America," he added. "We therefore urge Congress to make these necessary reforms to Section 230 and begin to hold online platforms accountable both when they unlawfully censor speech and when they knowingly facilitate criminal activity online."

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    States, DOJ reportedly meeting this week to plan Google antitrust suit / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 22 September, 2020 - 16:27


Enlarge / Google's in everything. Perhaps too much everything, regulators now worry. (credit: Omar Marques | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images )

Multiple investigations into Google parent Alphabet's competition practices may finally be reaching a head, as state and federal regulators meet today to plan next steps for one or more lawsuits against the company.

Attorneys from the Department of Justice are meeting today with attorneys general from several different states about imminent plans to file an antitrust suit against Google, the Washington Post and Bloomberg report.

The DOJ began its antitrust probe of "market-leading online platforms" a little more than a year ago, without naming names. Google was widely assumed to be one of the targets, and the company confirmed last September that it was indeed under investigation.

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    Dirty diesel engines will cost Daimler $1.5 billion in DoJ settlement / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 16 September, 2020 - 13:34 · 1 minute

A 1980s Mercedes-Benz diesel belches exhaust fumes in London. People expected diesel engines of this vintage to be dirty, but we had a right to expect that diesel engines sold over the past decade complied with emissions laws. Turns out, they don

Enlarge / A 1980s Mercedes-Benz diesel belches exhaust fumes in London. People expected diesel engines of this vintage to be dirty, but we had a right to expect that diesel engines sold over the past decade complied with emissions laws. Turns out, they don't. (credit: Richard Oliver/Getty Images)

In 2020 it seems more usual to read about the US Environmental Protection Agency rolling back pollution laws or arguing that big business should be allowed to do what it wants . But apparently the agency does occasionally work as intended. Earlier this week, together with the US Department of Justice and the California Air Resources Board, it held Daimler AG—parent company to Mercedes-Benz—accountable for selling diesel vehicles fitted with emissions defeat devices.

EPA and CARB found that all was not right with the Daimler's diesel engines in the wake of the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal . EPA told Daimler it was going to conduct some additional tests of the company's four- and six-cylinder diesel engines "using driving cycles and conditions that may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal operation and use, for the purposes of investigating a potential defeat device."

In doing so, it discovered several auxiliary emission control devices that were not described in the homologation paperwork submitted by Daimler. In total, about 160,000 Sprinter vans and about 90,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles are affected, between model years 2009 and 2016.

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