Freezenet’s Official Podcast: January 2022: Governments, Start Your Antitrust Suits

In the 39th episode of the Freezenet official podcast, “Governments, Start Your Antitrust Suits”, we take a look at the news and reviews we covered in January 2022.

Welcome to the public version of the Freezenet official podcast for January, 2022. This episode is entitled “Governments, Start Your Antitrust Suits” after the huge wave of antitrust action we saw throughout the US and even across the world.

In this episode we also cover the massive privacy fines hitting large tech companies. We also cover an update to the trial of Julian Assange. This episode also features a pretty big update on our YouTube channel as well.

We also cover all the usual music and video game reviews as well as a story about how not to get your kids tested for COVID-19. All this and more on this month’s episode!

You can check out our official podcast on Anchor. Alternatively, you can take a listen below:

Edit: This episode is now publicly available on Patreon.

What follows is a transcript for this month’s episode:


Governments, Start Your Antitrust Suits

Hi, I’m your host, Drew Wilson.  Welcome to episode 39 of the Freezenet official podcast for January, 2022.  Here are your top 3 headlines:

The Top 3

Things heat up with the antitrust efforts against large tech giants

Hundreds of millions in fines hits Facebook, Google, Grindr, and WhatsApp over privacy issues.  This as Amazon gets to push the pause button on their nearly billion euro fine

… and Julian Assange’s lawyers appeals extradition case after a loss on appeal

Top Stories

It was late 2019 and early 2020 when we saw the initial wave of antitrust action against large tech companies.  Unfortunately, for critics of the large tech companies, that antitrust action crashed into the rocks of the US legal system.  Case after case was seemingly dismissed.  That left those critics with a great deal of soul searching over what went so terribly wrong.  Some point to the weak legal cases that led to the efforts downfall.

Of course, a big force behind the antitrust litigation is the US government.  When it comes to legal cases in the US, the government doesn’t exactly give up so easily.  With a new administration in power, the push continued on behind the scenes to amend those legal documents and get the cases back on track.

This month, the Federal Trade Commission appealed the antitrust case against Facebook.  Unsurprisingly, Facebook was at the ready for any potential fresh legal challenges.  Facebook attempted to have the case dismissed outright.  The court, for its part, chose not to block the case outright, handing Facebook a loss of sorts.  It is worth pointing out that the judge seemed skeptical about the chances of success in the lawsuit.  Still, it means that the case against Facebook can proceed.

As that was going on, it seems that other countries were having that antitrust itch against large tech companies.  In Germany, regulators found that Google holds a significant amount of market share.  That decision opens the door to applying anti-market abuse controls on Google.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, Apple was on the receiving end of their own antitrust efforts.  Dutch authorities gave Apple an ultimatum: either pay a huge fine or open your App store to alternative payment systems.  Apple ultimately chose to allow Dutch dating apps to have their own alternative payment systems.  However, Apple also appealed this antitrust decision.

Back in the US, the coalition of US states renewed their case against Facebook and Google.  The case revolved around an alleged cozy deal between Facebook and Google to cooperate and corner the online advertising market.  At the time of the initial reports, what we heard about the appeal wasn’t anything new.  Still, for some reason, the media acted as though these revelations were shocking new developments in the case when, in fact, it was basically old news that the accusations revolved around collusion.

Amazon was also on the receiving end of antitrust efforts.  The FTC launched a probe into Amazon’s cloud computing – also known as AWS.  It represents one of the latest efforts in the ongoing antitrust initiatives against large tech giants.

While the antitrust efforts seemed a bit underwhelming at first, that was when things became potentially explosive overnight.  Freshly unsealed court documents from the court case between the coalition of states and Google shed some light on how serious the allegations are.

According to court documents, Google has been accused of suppressing publisher revenue.  The idea behind the online advertisements is that advertisers that bid on spaces would pay money to try and get those spots.  While a winner of that bid can very easily be displayed, the money from other advertisers is supposed to go to the publisher with Google charging a 20% fee.

Internally, there was something known as “Project Bernanke”.  The idea was that Google wanted more of the advertisements taken out on their own services to win more bids.  So, as the accusations say, what this “Project Bernanke” would do is suppress the revenue of second place bids from third parties.  That surplus money would get diverted from the publishers revenue back into a Google controlled pool.  After that, Google would then use that money to pump up their own advertisements over competing advertisements.  According to a source speaking to authorities, this represented as much as a 40% suppression of publisher revenue.

On the flip side, according to the allegations, those taking out those advertisements would then get charged full price.  So, that is how that surplus money would come to be in the first place.

If these accusations turn out to be true, this is a huge story.  For one, you potentially have every website that took out advertising during the time of “Project Bernanke” affected.  According to those court documents, the project goes all the way back to 2013.  So, they could theoretically have been shorted up to 40% of revenue all that time.  For another, advertisers, in that same period, potentially got overcharged as well.  That alone could be damages that ranges anywhere between the tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars.

So, even if the antitrust efforts fail, you could still have these allegations floating around.  It is technically possible that there would be a spinoff class action lawsuit or two to come from this.  One for publishers and one for advertisers if it isn’t all combined into one lawsuit.

Obviously, a lot has to be decided in the case before the possibilities can be seriously explored, but those possibilities are pretty significant.

Google, for their part, filed to have the lawsuit dismissed outright.  According to reports, Google said that the lawsuit represents a collection of grievances, but no evidence of wrongdoing.  The filing says, in part, “They criticize Google for not designing its products to better suit its rivals’ needs and for making improvements to those products that leave its competitors too far behind. They see the ‘solution’ to Google’s success as holding Google back, rather than letting market forces urge its competitors forward”.

As that was going on, data being published in the media suggests that lobbying by large tech giants has soared throughout 2021.  A report indicates that Google’s lobbying effort spiked by 27.5% in 2021 to $9.6 million.  The report notes that the lobbying efforts were on a range of topics, so not all of it would have been related to the antitrust efforts.  Still, the timing of this spike, unsurprisingly, got some journalists attention.

While antitrust received significant attention this month, there was another area that affected large tech giants too.  That area was privacy.

Earlier, we noted that gay dating website, Grindr, had to pay a large fine for privacy violations in Europe.  That fine was handed out via the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.  This month, we learned that the fine was adjusted to 7.1 million US dollars.  GDPR regulators say that the initial fine came about based on industry estimates.  They then arrived to this particular fine after learning more about the companies actual financial picture.

Of course, the fine against Grindr was a small blip compared to the record setting fine that was imposed on Amazon.  Earlier, we noted that Amazon was fined a whopping 746 million euro’s for violations of the GDPR.  Amazon appealed the decision.  This month, we learned that a judge has agreed to pause payments to the fine.  Amazon contends, among other things, that regulators did not give them direction on what corrective actions they need to take after handing out that fine.  So, that fine is now legally in limbo as considerations for next steps are contemplated.

While Amazon is fighting their fine, there was another substantial fine that was handed out under the GDPR.  Facebook owned WhatsApp was hit with a 225 million euro fine.  The fine, interestingly enough, was handed out by embattled regulator, the Irish DPC.  WhatsApp disagreed with the penalty and called the fine “entirely disproportionate”.

Coincidentally, while that fine was a big story, the Swiss army has dropped its recommendation of use of that software.  Instead, the army recommended Swiss based messaging app, Threema.  It is noted that the Swiss army hasn’t banned the use of WhatsApp, only that it has stopped recommending the use of it.

French regulator, CNIL, has issued a series of fines against Facebook and Google.  Google was fined 150 million euros while Facebook was fined 60 million euros.  That totals roughly 210 million combined.  The fines were handed out under the e-Privacy rules which ultimately allowed French regulators to issue those fines in the first place.  Had it been under the GDPR, the fine could only be handed out by the Irish DPC.

Just to add the cherry on top of this whole privacy saga, recently released statistics show that fines and penalties under the GDPR have spiked over the course of 2021.  In all, the total fines have exceeded 1 billion euros.  That reportedly represents more than a 500% increase.  It is noted that a bulk of that increase is the result of the larger fines handed out to larger tech giants.  It is also noted that breach notifications rose by 8%.

Finally, we have a new development in the case against Wikileaks co-founder, Julian Assange.  Previously, Assange was able to avoid extradition to the US.  This on the basis that the US penal system is so bad, that it might not prevent Assange from taking his own life.  The US since appealed the case.  After that, the higher British court overturned the lower courts decision.  They said that Assange can be extradited to the US.  The development is a major blow to journalism, human rights, and Assange supporters.  In response, Assange’s lawyers have said that they will be appealing the decision to the highest British court, the UK Supreme Court.   So, we will be awaiting the decision over whether or not Assange will be able to appeal this case and keep his hopes alive of avoiding extradition to the US.

Definitely a lot of drama happening in the news these days.  So, here are some of the other stories making news this month.

Other Stories Making News

Alberta Conservative MP, Rachael Thomas, spoke to the media about her reflections on stopping Bill C-10.  Thomas says that she is proud that Bill C-10 is dead.  Thomas also said, “Bill C-10, which is a censorship bill. It would have prevented individuals from posting certain things online.”  While her conclusion about Bill C-10 being dead being a good thing is accurate, how Thomas got there is flawed.  C-10 would have decided what premium spaces certain kinds of content would get on large platforms.  It technically doesn’t actually stop people from posting something online in and of itself.  What it would do is hamper potential exposure for content not deemed “Canadian” enough.  Still, the fact that C-10 would have actively suppressed content is technically a form of censorship.  So, while a bit of a hit and miss statement by the MP, it is easy to agree with Thomas on the outcome of the bill.

As mentioned earlier in the podcast, the Irish DPC has become embroiled in controversy over its handling of large tech firms.  This was the subject of last months podcast.  This month, Irish officials took to the radio airwaves to defend the Irish DPC.  They cited the WhatsApp fine as a way that the regulator can and will enforce the law.  Still, some officials continue to worry that if Europe’s flagship privacy law, the GDPR, isn’t sufficiently enforced, then it risked becoming little more than a paper tiger.  At any rate, there has been plenty of back and forth between different officials over the Irish DPC.

Traditional media outlets have a long history of painting a picture of how misinformation is exclusively a social media problem.  However, we’ve noted many times in the past how misinformation does get published on more traditional news organizations as well.  This month, we saw another example of this through an article published on Deadline.  The author discussed the movie Black Widow, saying that the movie had been downloaded on filesharing networks an estimated 20 million times.  He then concluded that this represented a loss of 600 million dollars.  Some people mistakenly thought that this conclusion came from Disney, but we saw no attribution saying this.  As a result, it looks like this is a figure plucked out of thin air by the journalist instead.

One of the big tasks I’ve had as a journalist for more than a decade is to debunk the myth that one download means one lost sale.  I’ve personally published plenty of articles showcasing studies and research showing why this is faulty logic from the start.  I actually thought in recent years that this myth was finally dead.  Sadly, after seeing that article, I have discovered that there are still pockets of people who still somehow believe this – even in 2022.

It’s been one year since the Biden Administration took office.  Among the big tasks was to get FCC nominees sworn in and get network neutrality re-instated.  One year later and we are still waiting for the last nominee to take a seat at the table so work can begin on that important task.  The Biden Administration has put forward the name Gigi Sohn as the last nominee to get put into the FCC board. With midterms looming later on this year, open internet supporters are still waiting for the work to begin on reinstating network neutrality.

This month, I published some observations on the state of privacy reform in Canada.  As you know, the Canadian government has, for years, dragged its feet on privacy reform.  Sometimes, they pay lip service.  Other times, the critical issue gets ignored.  After noting that more than 1 billion euros in fines have been laid on big tech over in Europe, it easily leads to at least one conclusion.  That conclusion being that Canada has effectively left millions, maybe even billions on the table.  Canadian privacy commissioners have been active on these files, faulting companies for breaching privacy laws.  Sadly, the only recourse is strongly worded letters from those commissioners.  As a result, you can’t help but marvel at the staggering shortsightedness of the government not moving forward with privacy reform.

Meanwhile, the collaboration between YouTubers Mark Rober and Mr. Beast appears to be a success.  That collaboration is the TeamSeas project. The idea is that for every dollar that is donated, one pound of trash gets removed from the ocean.  The initial goal was to remove 30 million pounds of garbage from the ocean before the end of 2021.  That goal seemed to be on shaky grounds leading up to the end of the year.  So, there was a last minute push.  Mr. Beast helped with that push to get the project over the finish line by slapping himself for donations.  That last minute push seemed to have worked.  The goal was ultimately met.  With the new year, the project is carrying on.  At this point, the project will continue to accept donations and remove garbage from the oceans.  The main website is

European digital rights organization, None of Your Business, has made news this month.  They say that with the data transfer ruling, use of Google Analytics is technically illegal in Europe.  Noyb cites a decision by the Austrian Data Protection Authority as the basis for this conclusion.  They say that by allowing personal information to be forwarded to Google, this could be a breach of European privacy laws.  It’s noted that, as of yet, there is no penalty for breaking privacy rules in this manner, but that could very easily change in the future.  The decision seems to only affect European websites.

German publishers are attempting something new to fight Google.  Earlier, publishers and their parent companies, like Axel Springer, have long been pushing for German courts to declare that ad blocking is copyright infringement.  The general idea of this argument is that because ad blocking changes how a page is displayed, the users would have an infringing copy of said webpage.  For most observers, this argument is a very bad one.  As it turns out, a German court agreed and tossed the case out.

In response, some of those same publishers and companies are now trying a new tactic.  With cookies in the process of going by the wayside, Google is attempting to replace those cookies with a so-called “privacy sandbox”.  The publishers claim that this move of eliminating third party cookies amounts to antitrust.  This sparked a 108 page legal complaint in the German legal system which represents their effort to block Google from moving forward with this system.  The argument seems to be that because Google is no longer allowing third party cookies, they are preventing publishers from using their own cookies to track users.  As a result, this legal fight seems to be about whether you like the idea of these third parties tracking you or Google.  Not exactly the greatest potential two outcomes for a lot of people.

Video Game Reviews

Thanks to the news being hot as ever, lets cool things down by talking about entertainment.

Before we get into the video game reviews, I wanted to point out the first impression video’s we’ve posted this month.

For this months Steam game, we checked out the game Dungeon Siege.  You can check out that video directly on our site or via YouTube.

From there, we tried the Playstation 3 game, Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception.  You can also check out that video directly on our site or via YouTube.

Normally, this would be it for the videos we’ve posted.  This month, though, is different.  We went on to publish a third video.  This video was basically a retrospective of all the Playstation 3 games we’ve played throughout the year.  We talked briefly about what each game was like and even offered our recommendations as well.  You can check out that video directly on our site or via YouTube.

If that wasn’t enough, we published a fourth video this month.  In that video, we showed off what we were able to get our hands on.  That just so happens to be an XBox 360.  Because of this, we are adding another console to our lineup for video game reviews and previews.

During the video, we made a major announcement regarding our YouTube channel.  Previously, we were only publishing two video’s per month.  Starting next month, we are increasing that to 4 YouTube video’s per month.  For a second year in a row, we doubled our output.  So, the new structure is that we will start the month with a Steam game.  A week later, we will post a Playstation 3 game.  After that, we intend on posting a video of an XBox360 game.  For the fourth and final video, we hope to post a video of a second Steam game.  While, technically speaking, it’s not going to be every week, it will allow us to be pretty close to that pace.  We hope you enjoy this added content.  We can’t promise we will keep this pace, but we will certainly try.  You can check out the full video and announcement via our site or YouTube.

As always, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel and turn on notifications to get realtime updates on what video’s we’ve posted.

Now, here are video games we’ve reviewed this month:

First up is Sonic & Knuckles for the Sega Genesis.  A game that features both great gameplay and length.  Graphics are also very nicely done as well.  So, this game gets a great 84%.

From there, we tried Super Hang-On for the Sega Genesis.  A slightly steep learning curve in the beginning, but features a nice 3D environment and parts system.  This one gets a solid 74%.

We then tried The Great Waldo Search for the Sega Genesis.  A game that is a bit on the easy side.  It also can easily be beaten within an hour.  This one only gets a passable 56%.

Finally, we tried Zoom! for the Sega Genesis.  Gameplay issues includes perspective issues and repetitive play.  Still, this one does have a good difficulty and learning curve.  This one gets a mediocre 64%.

Music Reviews

As for music we’ve listened to this month, we’ve got…

Green Day – Basket Case

Failure – Empty Friend

Sam Phillips – Circle of Fire

Mötley Crüe – Misunderstood

Globe – Pulse

Chakomo – Last Autumn

Mr. Oz & Larry Lush – Northern Lights

Axis – Come On

… and finally, Monolight – Alien World

Picks of the Month

So, that leads us to our pick of the month.  This month, our pick of the month belongs to Sonic & Knuckles for the Sega Genesis.  Also, be sure to check out Green Day – Basket Case.


And in other news

One of the things happening in the US are mass COVID-19 drive-in testing facilities.  In Texas, a teacher had suspected that her son contracted the virus.  The problem for her was that she didn’t want to get COVID-19 herself.  Still, she knew she needed to get her 13 year old tested.  So, she devised a plan.  She ended up putting her kid in the trunk of her car and driving him to the testing facility.  Authorities were less than amused with this idea and charged her with child endangerment.  I’m pretty sure there is a good reason why I never heard of this method of COVID-19 testing in any health guidelines.

Police in Missouri have admitted they made a slight error.  Evidently, they alerted cell phone users of a wanted vehicle.  The description of the vehicle matched that of the Joker’s car from Batman.  The message stated that the vehicle could be seen driving through Gotham city.  Obviously, the emergency alert didn’t depict a real emergency.  Still, let’s just admit that this wouldn’t have happened had the Batmobile not lost its wheel.

You can buy many things at Walmart, but there are certain things you really can’t buy there.  In Texas, a woman standing in line noticed the person next to her had two kids.  So, she offered to buy one of the kids.  The parent, no doubt creeped out, said “no”.  She insisted and offered to pay $250,000.  When she was told no again, she upped her offer to $500,000.  After that, the mother alerted authorities who tracked the woman down and arrested her.  Pretty sure that is a big sign why the woman shouldn’t have kids.


Before we close out this month’s episode, I got one quick announcement to make.  This month, we released the December wiki content patch.  Things, admittedly, were quite busy that month.  We had hoped to have released more content than we did, but we did get a small amount of content released.  This month, we added a small guide for researching new music.  This was in response to feedback we got about the idea of exploring new music and the concerns surrounding such an activity.  We thought the guide wouldn’t necessarily hurt anything at the very least, so we added it in the event some people might find it useful.  Also, we updated the shows to have the newest episodes.  Those shows being, of course, the Future Sound of Egypt, Fables, Resonation, and the V Recordings Podcast.  No new episode was released for the Random Movement Podcast, so that show remained updated as-is.

If you’d like to get your hands on some behind the scenes stuff, exclusive content, and early access material, you can check out our Patreon page at  Through this, you can help make Freezenet just that much better all the while getting some pretty cool stuff in the process.  That’s!

Alternatively, you can simply buy us a coffee via!

…and that’s this months episode for January, 2022.  I’m Drew Wilson for Freezenet.  Be sure to check out our website at for all the latest in news and reviews.  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.  Thank you for listening and see you next month.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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