Elizabeth Warren Pledges To Break Up Big Tech

Elizabeth Warren made fighting big tech a part of her 2020 presidential campaign. (Flickr)

Elizabeth Warren made fighting big tech a part of her 2020 presidential campaign. (Flickr)

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) unveiled a proposal on March 8 to break up Silicon Valley’s leading tech conglomerates, a move she argued would promote competition and prevent tech giants from crowding out competitors, reported Bloomberg.

“Today’s big tech companies have too much power—too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy,” stated the Senator in a Medium blog post. “They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else.”

Warren, a vocal critic of Wall Street and an antitrust advocate, maintained that she would select regulators who will unwind “anti-competitive tech mergers” such as Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods and Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp. The 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful further claimed that although Microsoft was correctly sued for violating anti-monopoly laws in the 1990s, this event enabled companies such as Google and Facebook to emerge and limit competition through proprietary marketplaces and mergers.

Warren’s far-reaching legislative proposal targets tech giants that earn a global annual revenue of $25 billion or more, forcing Google and Amazon to relinquish their current dominance in online commerce. The break up would also prevent Amazon from controlling which products to feature or advertise more prominently.

President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, expressed skepticism about the proposal in a press release on March 8. “The idea of breaking up some of our most successful American technology companies—who lead the world—and regulating them like public utilities would take us back to the stone age, hurt consumers, and stifle innovation,” says Donohue. “This is not a vision for the future, but an archaic idea that should be dumped in your computer trash can.”

Carl Szabo, Vice President of the e-commerce trade group NetChoice, contends that Warren is wrong to claim that tech markets lack competition, reports Reuters. “Never before have consumers and workers had more access to goods, services and opportunities online,” he argues.

Senator Warren’s decision to use $25 billion in annual revenue as a baseline is noteworthy, given how current antitrust laws primarily depend on ambiguous indicators such as market share and evidence of price gouging.

“I want a government that makes sure everybody—even the biggest and most powerful companies in America—plays by the rules. And I want to make sure that the next generation of great American tech companies can flourish,” stressed the Massachusetts senator. “To do that, we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.”