retail news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  The Washington Post reports that Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colorado) has introduced "the Digital Platform Commission Act, legislation to establish a new five-person commission responsible for protecting consumers in the age of Big Tech. According to the bill … the agency would have the power to interrogate the algorithms powering major tech platforms, and to set new rules to ensure the biggest companies are transparent about how they handle thorny decisions around content moderation on their platforms."

The Post goes on:

"Regulators’ current focus on competition problems in tech does not address many of the industry’s most pressing problems, according to Bennet, such as foreign disinformation, children’s safety and the potentially radicalizing effect of platform and product designs.

"The bill represents a growing awareness that the federal government is consistently outmatched in resources and tech skills when examining massive Silicon Valley companies. The Federal Trade Commission, which currently does much of the oversight of the tech industry, and the Justice Department, which has brought a major antitrust case against Google, have traditionally taken a more reactive approach to abuses in the tech industry — sometimes at a far slower pace than the industry moves. FTC Chair Lina Khan has said that the agency’s staff and resources are strained under a crush of merger filings and has asked Congress for more funding."

I'm all in favor of ensuring transparency in the marketplace, especially when it comes to matters of big tech and algorithms that affect both discourse and commerce - as citizens and consumers, we have an enormous stake in both.  But there is a rich irony in the idea that politicians and governmental officials, who are fully capable of resisting transparency that is not in their favor, are the ones requiring it of others.



•  MarketWatch reports that "Boxed Inc. said Thursday that FedEx Corp. will now deliver most of its customer shipments through a new multi-year collaboration.

"The e-commerce company said the mutually agreed upon increase in shipment volume will allow it to reduce the amount it spends on transportation across all its fulfillment centers, which it will reinvest in better pricing for customers and more promotions. Additionally, more Boxed customers will have access to full-week service, the company said … Boxed Chief Executive Chieh Huang said in prepared remarks that the alliance with FedEx provides his company with new ways to counter rising costs and provide the best service to customers in a challenging supply chain environment."