Saturday, 25 May, 2019

Elizabeth Warren has big plans to break up Amazon, Google, and Facebook

Scott Olson via Getty Images Scott Olson via Getty Images
Russell Knight | 08 March, 2019, 22:39

Elizabeth Warren unveiled a proposal on Friday to break up the country's biggest technology companies - which she referred to as "monopolies".

Warren's plan would prohibit companies that make more than $25 billion a year through an online marketplace from also owning participants on the platform.

Warren said that she would nominate regulators who would unwind acquisitions such as Facebook's deals for WhatsApp and Instagram, Amazon's deals for Whole Foods and Zappos, and Google's purchases of Waze, Nest and DoubleClick.

To do that, we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.

Warren was set to speak about the policy to supporters Friday in Long Island City, which would've been home to one of Amazon's headquarters in NY but the tech-conglomerate pulled out of the deal after critics said the city gave them unfair government incentives.

Warren's call for regulating big tech helps separate her from the rest of the crowded 2020 Democrat presidential field, where many candidates have varying opinions on Silicon Valley's influence. Warren will also call for legislation that would block platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.

I reached out to Amazon, Facebook, and Google for comment about Warren's proposal and will update this post if I hear back.

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In a blog post, Warren said she'll pursue the plan if she wins the presidency.

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota used her presidential campaign launch speech to vow action on digital issues like privacy, saying "big tech companies" misuse personal data. The government's antitrust case against Microsoft helpedclear a path for Internet companies like Google and Facebook to emerge.

Her tech agenda, coming at a time of rising public concern about the growing power of the dominant players, could force the rest of her rivals for the 2020 nomination to follow her lead. "Google Search would have to be spun off as well", she wrote.

Amazon owns its online marketplace and sells private label goods on it, a move Warren says "crushes small companies by copying the goods they sell on the Amazon Marketplace and then selling its own branded version".

Doing so wouldn't change your ability to visit Google and search for things like you do today, use Amazon to find "30 different coffee machines that you can get delivered to your house in two days", or use Facebook to see how old friends are doing. "Tech entrepreneurs would have a fighting chance to compete against the tech giants".

Meanwhile, Warren wants to reverse "illegal and anti-competitive tech mergers" via appointed regulators.

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