Apple CEO Tim Cook at the company’s keynote event in 2019. (Apple Photo) The U.S. Supreme Court to Apple on Monday that other big tech companies are no doubt watching closely. The justices voted 5-4 to allow a class action lawsuit to go forward, allowing consumers to try to prove Apple abuses its monopoly power in its App Store. The decision could spell trouble for companies like Amazon and Facebook, which have been singled out by politicians who are concerned that Big Tech is engaging in anti-competitive behavior. The news: The Supreme Court sided with consumers who brought a case against Apple, claiming the tech giant’s 30 percent take rate on apps sold in its App Store is an abuse of monopoly power that results in higher prices. Apple claimed that only app developers, not consumers, could bring the case. Justice Brett Kavanaugh said that kind of “line-drawing does not make a lot of sense, other than as a way to gerrymander Apple out of this and similar lawsuits,” in the opinion. The backdrop: Big Tech has become a target of progressives running for president in 2020, elevating issues including antitrust to the main political stage. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is leading the pack with a to break up big tech companies. Her plan would also prevent companies that make marketplaces and platforms (like Amazon and Apple) from selling their own goods or participating on those platforms. Big picture: The SCOTUS decision could embolden elected officials who want to regulate tech. The ruling shows tech companies may have a hard time winning over the nation’s highest court if they come to legal blows with regulators over antitrust issues. Several lines in the opinion, like this, seem particularly prescient: “If a retailer has engaged in unlawful monopolistic conduct that has caused consumers to pay higher-than-competitive prices, it does not matter how the retailer structured its relationship with an upstream manufacturer or supplier.” What’s next: The lawsuit is still in early stages and plaintiffs will have to prove that Apple engaged in anticompetitive behavior to succeed. If that happens, but there is a long road ahead. “At this early pleadings stage of the litigation, we do not assess the merits of the plaintiffs’ antitrust claims against Apple,” Kavanaugh wrote. Read the full opinion below. by on Scribd
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan speaks at an event presented by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Department of Defense Photo) Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who was a veteran Boeing executive before going to the Pentagon, is facing an ethics investigation amid complaints that he has been talking up his former employer and disparaging Boeing’s competitors. The Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General today acknowledged that it was looking into the complaints about actions that were “allegedly in violation of ethics rules.” Shanahan, who spent much of his 31 years at Boeing managing commercial airplane programs, won Senate confirmation to become assistant defense secretary in 2017 and after James Mattis’ departure at the end of last year. When Shanahan came to the Pentagon, he pledged to recuse himself from any matters involving Boeing. But in January, as saying that he repeatedly praised Boeing and trashed Lockheed Martin during high-level internal meetings. One former official quoted him as describing Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter program as “f—ed up” and complaining that the company “doesn’t know how to run a program.” In late January, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asking Shanahan to respond to the reports, and this month the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington . In statements sent to news media today, the inspector general’s office said it would follow through with an investigation into the allegations. The office noted that just last week, Shanahan he’d support an investigation. , Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino, as saying that the acting secretary “has at all times remained committed to upholding his ethics agreement filed with the DoD.” Warren, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and officially kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign last month, welcomed news of the investigation. “The American people should be able to trust that government officials are working for them – not for big defense contractors,” .