There’s a change coming that could arguably make it a lot easier for feds to snoop through your digital stuff, even if you’ve done nothing but been the victim of some malware. If Congress doesn’t act to stop it, that change to Rule 41 becomes effective basically at midnight tonight. So a handful of Senators who want to block it are all but begging their colleagues to act now. [More]
The election may feel like it happened just yesterday, but it’s now ten days behind us, and the building transition to the administration turnover in January is well underway. As part of that, today we learned President-Elect Donald Trump’s top choice for a key role that affects consumers and consumer rights nationwide: he will nominate Sen. Jefferson Sessions of Alabama as Attorney General. [More]
Volkswagen’s year-long “dirty diesel” saga nabbed its first Volks-villain on Friday, when a veteran engineer for the carmaker pleaded guilty in the first criminal charge related to the VW’s use of so-called “defeat devices” in millions of vehicles in order to skirt federal emissions regulations. [More]
We closed out 2015 with the health insurance market poised to get a lot smaller, as Anthem proposed to by Cigna and Aetna said it would buy Humana. If both mergers go through, the number of large nationwide health insurance carriers would drop to just three… a big challenge in a U.S. that’s seen the market for health insurance expand since the Affordable Care Act went into effect. And if reports are true, the Justice Department may feel that’s just too much contraction.
After months of rumors, this morning it became official: Charter plans to step in where Comcast failed, with a $55 billion plan to acquire Time Warner Cable. Regulators looked unfavorably on Comcast’s bid, finding it would have too many negative effects on consumers and on competition. But Charter clearly would not be trying its own takeover, with such a huge price tag, if they didn’t think they stood a good chance of success. So what makes the second offer so different from the first — and is it any more likely to succeed?
Here’s the thing about being fined by the U.S. government –– they won’t stop until you pay them. At least that appears to be the case with Southwest Airlines, which is being sued by the Justice Department for failure to pay a $12 million civil penalty levied by the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year.
Companies of all shapes and sizes hoping to complete million-dollar mergers often face some tough questions from U.S. regulators. The process is no different for the less-talked about industries, like movie theater ad companies (you know, the companies responsible for making you sit through commercials before a seeing a movie?). And so, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit to stop the $375 million merger of the industry’s two biggest players, National CineMedia Inc and Screenvision LLC.
Comcast and Time Warner Cable have been making the case for their merger nearly all year. The two companies talk up their TV programming sides a lot, but most watchers know that the merger — and the future — are really all about broadband, and that market is what Comcast is poised to control on a national scale. That potential dominance has worried not only businesses and consumer advocates, but also has apparently attracted the attention of the Justice Department as well.
The FCC isn’t the only agency reviewing the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger; the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice is all over it, too. And while the full public doesn’t get to have its riotous say with the DoJ the same way we did with the FCC, businesses and consumer advocates can file in opposition (or support). Our colleagues down the hall at Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, have now officially chimed in to ask the DoJ to watch out for the interests of consumers, and block the merger.
A four-year battle between American Express and the Justice Department comes to a head today in court, and the outcome could bring significant changes to the credit card industry. [More]
Government regulators create laws and initiate investigations in order to protect consumers from an array of hurtful products and companies. One such consumer fraud investigation by the Justice Department is “Operation Choke Point” and it’s resulted in criminal and civil probes by U.S. prosecutors. But some legislators see the investigation as more hurtful than helpful. [More]
Is Attorney General Eric Holder all talk and no action? For the second time this year Holder has made it clear that the Justice Department does not believe that any corporation or executive is too big to jail. But an abundance of fines and a lack of actual prosecutions is enough to make one wonder if the declarations are just for show. [More]