Democrats have warned they are coming after big tech. Now presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, says she wants to break up the major tech firms.
Warren has joined a chorus of political leaders on both sides of politics voicing their concerns about the impact of Big Tech on America’s well being. She published an opinion piece on Medium on March 8 proclaiming that big tech companies have “too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy.” She later added “we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor.”
In Digiday’s coverage of the SXSW tech conference, they cited Warren’s proposed solution. This included such initiatives as “eliminating the ability for a platform to control a marketplace.” It also mentioned her plan to “split up companies like Amazon, which also sells its own, competing private-label brands on its own site.”
In her Medium piece she cited the problems of big tech and the numerous ways she proposed to address them. “Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.”
She explained her intention to have a government that insures fairness. One that would enable the rise of new tech companies and healthy competition. “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 also explained that platforms with their own marketplaces use their power to protect their own shares of the market. "Amazon crushes small companies by copying the goods they sell on the Amazon Marketplace and then selling its own branded version. Google allegedly snuffed out a competing small search engine by demoting its content on its search algorithm, and it has favored its own restaurant ratings over those of Yelp,” she continued.
Warren blamed the problems of the big tech monopolies on “mergers” used to to "limit competition." She gave example such as Facebook's acquisitions of other social media platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp.
The liberal presidential candidate called out Apple during the South by Southwest conference she called out Apple specifically. "Apple, you’ve got to break it apart from their App Store. It’s got to be one or the other,” she explained. Warren elaborated further on how offering one’s own product on a platform can suppress competition: "Either they run the platform or they play in the store. They don’t get to do both at the same time."
She made a case for her reforms by citing historical precedent saying that this breed of antitrust legislation "applied to railroad companies more than a hundred years ago," and therefore "we need to now look at those tech platforms the same way."