⏩ Apple and Google are reeling from a law by...North Dakota?!
|Mark Dent||Feb 17|
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This week: North Dakota starts an idea Silicon Valley hates and Microsoft stands up for its Big Tech rivals. Plus: a few tips for clearly communicating legal ideas.
You may remember that several companies have gone after Apple over its App Store fees. Epic, maker of Fortnite, has even sued the company.
Well, North Dakota might’ve found a solution for them.
A legislator filed a bill that would overturn Apple’s and Google’s entire business plans: In North Dakota, companies would be allowed to set up their own app payment systems, rather than use Apple’s or Google’s. Apple and Google have both fought against this at the national level. They make a boatload off app-store sales, charging up to 30% commission.
Epic had a hand in this: The lobbyist who helped the North Dakota legislator draft the bill was hired by the gaming company.
Don’t underestimate North Dakota and other states: State legislatures can be tricky for tech companies. They have their own local quirks and Democrats and Republicans can build consensus on subjects where there is great disparity in Congress. For instance, one of the reasons the North Dakota legislator took it up was because he thought it would help attract tech companies to the state.
This is happening in other states, too
New York has a bill in the works that might aid federal antitrust regulators with Big Tech. A law went into effect in Maryland that taxes online ads by the likes of Amazon and Facebook, and Indiana and Connecticut are considering similar legislation.
The bill failed in North Dakota on Tuesday, but the state may have started a revolution. A Massachusetts lawmaker plans to propose a similar bill this week and Minnesota and Wisconsin may be next.
Microsoft knows about antitrust issues. Long before Facebook existed, it was running afoul of the DOJ.
And, as Big Tech companies face increased government interference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella vouched for some of the company’s competitors in a recent Bloomberg story.
Nadella said “Big by itself is not bad”: But he countered that competition was important, as well as having a business model that led to a greater good.
He recommended tech companies take a more worldly view: “All of us in the West Coast of the United States need to be more grounded, because sometimes I think we celebrate our own advances far too much.”
Might Microsoft have antitrust issues coming, too?
Probably not from the federal government. But several companies have been complaining about its influence. Slack, before getting purchased by Salesforce, asked EU regulators to look into Microsoft’s practices with its Teams product.
Microsoft’s influence may have no impact on the DOJ, but Nadella is showing unity at a time when the biggest tech companies have been facing unprecedented heat.
Whenever you’re having trouble writing about a legal situation to colleagues or clients, ABA Journal has a good tip: Pretend you’re giving directions.
Here’s a quick summation for how they explained it:
Give orientation to readers: If you’re listing a few reasons for proving a point make it clear by announcing the specific number of reasons and then actually numbering them.
Use headings liberally: They are like signposts for whoever is reading it.
Don’t be afraid of lists: It makes everything easier, even for people well-trained in the law.
What else we’re forwarding
New data shows the huge growth of alternative legal service providers: The global ALSP market jumped to $13.9 billion at the end of 2019, up from about $10 billion just two years earlier.
Clubhouse is big on exclusivity, except when it comes to personal data: Have you been invited to Clubhouse yet? Here’s what you may want to know about its practices regarding privacy.
Music we’re working to
This morning we’re listening to Danielle Baquet-Long who goes by the moniker Chubby Wolf. Danielle was a teacher of special education in music therapy who tragically passed away at the age of 27. Maudlin & Elusive consists of a semi-improvised, epic minimalism of instruments and voice, within a loose-song structure. It creates an atmosphere of depth that I love. Enjoy.
Maudlin & Elusive - Chubby Wolf (50m, no vocals)
Catch ya next week.