Jun 2, 2021 • 10M

🗞️ Amazon takes another antitrust hit

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This week: Another antitrust suit for Amazon, and a gender bias claim against Google reaches the next level. Plus, Russia cracks down on American social media companies.

A new lawsuit claims Amazon makes products too expensive 

The attorney general of Washington D.C. filed a lawsuit last week that may contain the missing ingredient for proving antitrust versus Amazon

  • The lawsuit is about prices: For years, Amazon barred U.S. merchants from selling their goods anywhere else for a lower price, according to the lawsuit. Although that practice was changed in 2019, Washington D.C.'s attorney general contends Amazon replaced it with a policy that is effectively the same. (Amazon denies this.) 

  • To prove an antitrust action, the U.S. requires consumers be harmed: Many other Amazon lawsuits have seemingly lacked this component. But Washington D.C. suggests the pressure on merchants leads to higher prices for consumers in the overall market. That is what you call affecting consumer welfare. 

But wait

Antitrust experts are split on the case’s chances for success. The consumer harm component is an obvious plus for the Washington D.C. attorney general, but others question why the suit wasn’t filed sooner when Amazon had a more official approach to setting merchants’ prices.

The Verdict

Whatever happens, this suit may not be as far-reaching as the federal cases against Amazon. Other states, however, could still join D.C.

💵 Google may pay big time for its history of underpaying women 

One of the biggest forces in Silicon Valley is facing a gender bias class action lawsuit.

  • In 2017, four women sued Google: They claimed they had been placed in career ladders that consistently led to lower bonuses and salaries. The U.S. government found other troubling claims, with the Dept. of Labor saying Google created “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.” 

  • The latest strike against Google came last week: The four women’s lawsuit was certified as class action by a San Francisco court. Now, some 10,800 women are suing for $600 million. 

They have a California advantage

The women allege Google has violated the California Equal Pay Act, which has been expanded in recent years to make stricter rules against workplace discrimination. 

The Verdict

The case may go to trial as early as next year. Although it’s likely too late, Google says it raised thousands of salaries across the board last year.  

🪆 Russia goes after the biggest social networks in an anti-free speech campaign 

And you thought the debate over free speech on the internet was contentious in America…

  • It all started with protests: In January, Russians used social networks like Twitter and Facebook, as well as Google, to help organize actions against the Kremlin. Russia has since been making steady demands for those internet companies to remove content it deems problematic. A failure to comply may result in Russia’s internet regulator (named Roskomnadzor!) slowing the companies’ services.

  • The companies have agreed to some demands and passed on others: Twitter, for instance, has removed thousands of pieces of content at Russia’s request. But Twitter and Facebook have so far declined to store data on Russian users as the authorities want.   

Authoritarian leaders are cracking down all over

Indian police visited Twitter’s New Delhi offices earlier this week. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko banned live streams of unauthorized protests. 

The Verdict

Until recently, the internet had been relatively free of control in Russia. But the Kremlin’s new controls are expected to increase, into something like the Great Firewall of China, and potentially spread elsewhere around the world. 

💌 What else we’re forwarding

The best ways to improve legal writing while still getting paid: A few tips for honing your legal writing skills while you’re on the clock.

The law firm trying to nix Covid vaccination requirements: There’s a fight to prevent workplaces from requiring employee vaccinations, and a white-shoe law firm in New York, backed by a Texas political group, is leading the charge.

🎧 Music we’re working to

Today we’re playing Amy Dabbs, a London-born, Berlin-based dance music producer. The daughter of an original Northern Soul DJ, Amy listened non-stop to Motown during her childhood, inspiring a genuine love for music. 2020’s Girl Like Me takes us on a journey through the world of house music, masterfully combining influences from the past with futuristic vibes.

Girl Like Me - Amy Dabbs (30m, vocal chops)
Spotify / Apple Music / YouTube Music / Amazon Music 

See ya next week,

🧐 Raad