Nov 3, 2021 • 10M

🗞️ The newest tech antitrust enforcer in the U.S.

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This week: The DOJ is about to get a top antitrust leader, and Facebook outlines a “legal hold.” Plus: an update on the Supreme Court session.

⛰️ The Justice Department’s top antitrust leader is almost ready to begin 

The United States may be reaching a new peak for antitrust thanks to the approval of a new leader for the Justice Department. 

  • Jonathan Kanter is one step away from assuming a top role with the DOJ: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved his nomination as head of the department’s antitrust division last week. Now the Senate can officially vote him in. 

  • Kanter emphasized antitrust measures during the nomination hearing: According to the NYT, he said he wanted “vigorous enforcement in the technology area.” 

The Justice Department is already busy with antitrust cases

In case you’re having trouble keeping track, the DOJ has sued Google and is investigating Apple. Kanter, assuming the Senate votes him in, will join Lina Khan of the FTC as another major supporter of antitrust actions against tech. 

The Verdict 

There’s something that could really show an emphasis on tech antitrust: Bipartisan support for Kanter’s nomination in the Senate. 

🙋 What's happened at the Supreme Court so far this session 

The Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in several major cases the last few weeks. Here’s a quick rundown: 

  • The Texas abortion law: The Court heard arguments this week, and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett showed indications of siding with abortion providers, per Vox. But the Court is hearing a fairly narrow question, specifically whether people can sue to block the law. That means for the law to actually be struck down it would take another round of litigation. Another abortion case awaits SCOTUS in December.

  • Vaccine mandates: New York state health workers argued their case to end a vaccine mandate for religious purposes in front of SCOTUS this week. The same thing happened for Maine the week before, and the court ruled the mandate could stand. It seems unlikely the court will side against employer-backed mandates, from the public or private sector. 

  • Second Amendment: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments about whether Americans have the right to carry a loaded gun in public today. The Justices are expected to use research all the way back to the 1300s in England to decide where to come down on the issue, per the Los Angeles Times.

 📄 Facebook tells employees to hold all their documents for legal reasons 

Things are not quieting down at Facebook (ahem, Meta), and it doesn’t appear they will anytime soon based on instructions the company has given employees, according to the NYT. 

  • The social media giant sent a memo last week: It told employees to preserve internal documents and communications dating back to 2016 and to stop using ephemeral messages for work communications. 

  • There’s a phrase for this tactic: a legal hold. The note sent to employees mentioned “governments and legislative bodies” had already launched investigations of the company, but it gave no further details. This move follows other instructions to employees from the last year on how to respond to antitrust issues.

Recapping Facebook’s problems

The latest scrutiny on Facebook has come because of internal messages and documents, released by whistleblower Frances Haugen. Facebook has also told employees to stop leaking to the media, per the NYT, and to limit the number of employees who see communications about election safety and platform safety.

The Verdict     

Employees weren’t told to preserve messages related to some of Facebook’s other products, like WhatsApp and its AR offerings.

💌 What else we're forwarding

Associates are seeing $500k signing bonuses at Big Law: As the year goes on, the signing bonuses for people leaving their law firms for lateral positions just get bigger and bigger. 

The legal issues with haunted houses: It’s not too late to read one more scary Halloween story. This one is about how there aren’t many laws protecting you if you buy a haunted house.

🎧 Music we’re working to

Today we’re listening to Basic Channel, a German electronic duo founded in Berlin in 1993. Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus created Berlin Channel, bringing in the wave of techno dance vibes that the Berlin club scene is famous for today. We recommend that you listen to Quadrant Dub, released in 1994, referred to by Optimistic Underground as “one of the most transcendent pieces of music ever recorded”. Allow yourself to get lost in the beats and enjoy!

Quadrant Dub - Basic Channel
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✌🏽 Raad