US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is calling for the dismantling and reorganizing of major tech companies, starting with Facebook, Google and Amazon. Senator Warren, who identifies as a Democrat, is part of a growing number of politicians who think some American tech companies have become monopolies and are stealing opportunity from smaller businesses.
“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,” wrote Warren.
Warren continued by saying America’s tech giants have become “dominant” by carrying out two key strategies: using mergers to limit competition and using proprietary marketplaces to limit competition. Warren called out Facebook for its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp, Amazon for buying Diapers.com, and Google for merging with Waze and DoubleClick.
“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,” said Warren.
The candidate outlined how she would implement a more balanced and fair structure if she were to become president. For starters, her administration would pass a law sectioning off large tech companies that gross at least $25bn a year in global revenue and "offer to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties.”
These companies would be categorized as “platform utilities” and would be banned from owning the platform and any of its participants and be required to "meet a standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users.” Platform utilities would also be prohibited from sharing data with other companies.
Secondly, Warren will appoint regulators who were “committed to reversing illegal and anti-competitive tech mergers”, including Amazon’s merger with Whole Foods and Zappos; Facebook’s merger with WhatsApp and Instagram; and Google’s Merger with Waze, Nest, and DoubleClick. She stated that reversing these measures will not result in inconvenience for consumers but rather, a healthy competitive marketplace.
“Here’s what will change: small businesses would have a fair shot to sell their products on Amazon without the fear of Amazon pushing them out of business,” explained Warren. “Google couldn’t smother competitors by demoting their products on Google Search. Facebook would face real pressure from Instagram and WhatsApp to improve the user experience and protect our privacy. Tech entrepreneurs would have a fighting chance to compete against the tech giants.”
Warren concluded, “Healthy competition can solve a lot of problems. The steps I’m proposing today will allow existing big tech companies to keep offering customer-friendly services, while promoting competition, stimulating innovation in the tech sector, and ensuring that America continues to lead the world in producing cutting-edge tech companies. It’s how we protect the future of the internet.”