TWIT 784: Karsten Has Pictures

Beep boop - this is a robot. A new show has been posted to TWiT…

What are your thoughts about today’s show? We’d love to hear from you!


The EU anti-trust is not about companies being too big, in and of itself. It is their abuse of markets and the harm that has on consumer choice. It is just that the really big companies tend to be the ones doing the worst damage.

I think it is more the “too big for their boots” type of too big, as opposed to the company being overly large.


I think the Surface Duo is pretty neat. The lack of NFC is alarming since you can actually use it for things on Android. If there is a next version, hopefully it will have NFC and wireless charging. I am only worried because of other Surface devices. I have a Surface Pro 7 and how much has it changed since the original? It might be too expensive to reach mass market appeal. I am sure it will be great for Xcloud.

Amy says that Amazon is the hardest one to make a case against. Give me a break. They are a huge monopoly and use their power in any way to get rid of their competition.

Uber and Lyft exploit people. AB5 is to protect people. We know people will drive for $2 an hour because so many people can not do arithmetic.


Amazon is certainly very large, but I’m not sure they fit the definition of a monopoly requiring legal action. What service or commodity do they excise complete control over in the context of an entire market? AWS has major competition from Microsoft, Google, and hundreds of smaller IaaS companies which prevents them doing anything untoward in terms of service hosting. Their product marketplace is very large, but nothing Amazon is doing prevents a product manufacturer from standing up their own eCommerce site, which thousands do. Their grocery store play, Whole Foods, doesn’t have much of a market share, they can’t strong arm grocery suppliers etc.

A company being very large doesn’t warrant anti-trust litigation, they must be purposefully manipulating cost of goods/services in order to prevent competing companies from existing. At least that’s how I understand it; IANAL.


The issue is they own the store, and they compete with the suppliers to the store. They require the sellers to supply them competitive information which allows them to decide whether they should engage in replacing one supplier with a cheaper supply of their own making. (Batteries are a good example here, but Amazon has many “Basics” branded goods and something like 40 of their own brands.)


ah thats right, I always forget about their Amazon Basics stuff. That might be a good point. I’d like to see details about what information they require from sellers. I know many retailers do generic brands as well (Costco’s Kirkland for example).

Which has some similarities with Apple as well, and provides some context for why they were called before the Congressional committee.

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One thing to keep in mind with regards to TikTok and China is that the Chinese government has lawful intercept laws. This means that all the data MUST be turned over to the Chinese government without any due process. This means that TikTok data is being fed to the Chinese government in real-time. These same laws also allow for the Chinese government to dictate the usage of TikTok, and since TikTok has access to the device’s camera, mic, location services, and contacts this could allow the Chinese government to have surveillance on any device that has TikTok installed. Both the data being feed is real-time, and TikTok turning into a surveillance device this is not an unrealistic concern considering there is a strong argument that the Chinese government is a surveillance state.

While there is a concern with the US government performing a similar threat under the guidelines of the Patriot Act it is much less because there is still some due process. Historically, we’ve seen this due process in action in 2015 when an iPhone was recovered in the San Bernardino attack.

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You are exactly correct - well said :+1:

One thing to keep in mind with regards to Facebook & Instagram and the USA is that the American government has awful intercept laws. This means that all the data MUST be turned over to the US Government without any due process**.

Your point is?

** Patriot Act, FISA courts and National Security Letters, just to name 3.


I would not worry a bit if the US really had the access that you claim (which it doesn’t)! our laws require a lawful warrant from the courts - I would however worry about the Chinese communist party which simply demands and the data are given - and if the person from whom the data are demanded doesn’t act quickly enough then they disappear, so…

I’m going to warn you that I’ve heard numerous times that in many jurisdictions there are judges who will pretty much blanket sign warrants with the right “techno babble”.

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yeah, so the TV shows like to depict :blush:

I guess you are not a regular listener to TWiT, TWiG or WW, or haven’t read ZDNet, The Register or Reuters in the last 2 decades, I would guess mainstream news should also have covered it…

But after 9/11, Shrub Bush Jr. pushed through the Patriot Act, which meant that in the name of National Security, information must be handed over upon request. Likewise the FISA court and National Security Letters are under seal, if you receive one, you have to comply and you can’t tell anyone, not even your boss or nor a lawyer (Edit: Google and Microsoft have been fighting for over a decade to include the number of NSL and FISA warrants in their transparency reports each year, but that has been rejected by the courts as not in their jurisdiction and the FISA court rejected their attempts to be heard)… And recently they also passed the Cloud Act.

In practical terms, as a non-US and a non-Chinese citizen, I don’t see much difference between what the Chinese could theoretically do and what the has been proven that the USA does, plus the big tech companies are all based in the USA, so that, now Privacy Shield has been demonstrated to be useless, because of the lack of US Government support (failing to fulfill their promises under the treaty), it practically means that no European can use any US based services.

(The USA was required under the Safe Harbour treaty to guarantee the same levels of data protection for data held on European citizens in the USA as in the European Union itself. Max Schrems brought a case in the EU and the court came to the conclusion that the US had not fulfilled their part of the agreement and Safe Harbour is null and void. The EU and the USA quickly sat together and worked out Privacy Shield, the replacement for the defunct Safe Harbour. Under that the US Government promised to ensure that data would be held to EU standards and that the data held by companies couldn’t be sold on without the express written permission of the identifiable persons (physical or judicial) and that it could only be accessed by law enforcement through due process and a valid EU warrant, they would also appoint a permanent Ombudsman for EU citizens to contact. In 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, the EU issued failure to comply notices to the USA, because they had not appointed an Ombudsman. In 2020 Max Schrems second case against the EU and Facebook (called Schrems II and started in 2015) concluded and reached the decision that the USA had failed to fulfill its duties under Privacy Shield, to whit, it hadn’t appointed an ombudsman, it hadn’t repealled the Patriot Act, the CLOUD Act, the FISA Courts and NSLs, or even made them null and void in combination with data about EU citizens.

That leaves Standard Contractual Clauses as the only hand hold for US businesses to carry on trading with EU citizens. Even though these are still beholden to the Patriot Act, the CLOUD Act, FISA and NSLs, so it won’t be long until they are null and void as well, effectively making all US based cloud and social media services illegal in the European Union and possibly many other countries. It will also affect normal businesses trying to trade with Europe, as they won’t be able to store any information about EU citizens, at least not in the cloud or on US soil.)

Edit: Google’s submission to be able to report the number of FISA incidents

I’m a very dedicated listener to all of the TWiT shows weekly - it’s great tech content, but of dubious political content! At any rate, I’m familiar with all of the programs you’ve outlined and I’m very happy they exist to protect myself and my family from terrorists or from entities like the Chinese Communist Party, which is dedicated to destroying our way of life! The CCP is actively attempting to overwhelm the US and our allies, economically, politically and militarily and my government is working to thwart these attempts - that’s the way of the world right now!

And I am glad I don’t live in America, because of these laws. Other countries seem to manage just as well against terrorists, without encroaching so dramatically on their citizens rights and lives.

As I said, not being American, I don’t see that Chinese government is any better or worse than the US government, in terms or overreach and spying on their allies.

Although I was outraged by the Chinese listening in on Chancellor Merkels phone. Oh, no, that’s right, it was the German ally, the USA that did that! The US should stop throwing stones, until it gets its own house in order.

hahahaha, guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree! I’m glad I don’t live in the EU where I have to be protected by America

I work with many of the top global CPG companies and their retail customers. Walmart, CVS, Costco, Home Depot and just about every other major retailer offers their own private label options (I also work with white label manufacturers that supply those private label goods). All of these retailers own the store and compete with their suppliers, just like Amazon. They all know exactly what sells and doesn’t sell, where, and for how much; through their loyalty programs they also know who buys what. Beyond their in-house analytics, retailers also get a lot of insight from their suppliers in every category. Manufacturers vie to be “category captain” in their respective category, a sort of “most favored nation” status that confers considerable benefits but also comes only after they’ve shared all their custom research on pricing, promotions, product incrementality, decision trees, marketing mix, etc. And on top of all that they also pay a ton of money for shelf presence/placement and promotion. Rather than share any specific insider knowledge I’ll just say if you’re interested in this do a web search for “slotting fees”.
cc: @knewman


@ChrisKez all of that says to me that the entire “large general merchandise” type stores, including Amazon, need to be investigated for anti-competitive behaviours and collusion.

Here in Canada CBC Fifth Estate did an investigation on kickbacks for pharmacists (which is illegal.) The whole thing stinks of corruption.


Whether or not it is anti-competitive I cannot say, but it is not collusion because the retailers are not working with each other; it just became how things were done. Retailers will say these fees help offset the risk that a product will fail; and believe me almost every new product fails. I don’t agree or disagree, I’m just providing a snippet of their argument. Further complicating things, some large retailers like Walmart do not charge slotting fees but they use their leverage to simply squeeze wholesale prices or charge other fees. There have been court cases, Congressional hearings and FTC reports going back years. I’m not going to argue the merits of one side or another, I’m just here to point out that the stuff Amazon is doing is no different than what the rest of the retail industry does. Amazon is just a very small piece of the overall retail industry but everything they do (good and bad) comes under much more scrutiny and get much more publicity.