FAANGs out! Warren unveils plan for busting up the big tech companies
11 March, 2019, 10:38 | Author: Billie Castillo
Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday followed up on her campaign theme that, if she were president, everyone would have to play by the rules, this time targeting giant tech companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook for having "too much power".
Warren, a Democrat from MA, joins a growing chorus across the political spectrum voicing concern about the power of Silicon Valley and proposing some kind of government action. Carl Szabo, its vice-president and general counsel, told Reuters: "Warren is wrong in her assertion that tech markets lack competition".
She always wants to reverse what she calls "illegal and anti-competitive tech mergers".
This isn't necessarily a new idea - Donald Trump's former adviser Stephen Bannon suggested this. Those with an annual revenue of $25 billion or more would be legally forced to separate their goods from their marketplace services, while those earning less would face less stringent regulation.
The main law that applies to antitrust cases is the Sherman Antitrust Act.
It would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform, and owners would be required to meet fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing standards with users. "As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their resources and control over the way we use the internet to squash small businesses and innovation, and substitute their own financial interests for the broader interests of the American people", Warren wrote. In the first, Warren would pass legislation that prohibits companies from offering a marketplace and also participating in that marketplace - forcing giants like Amazon and Google to spin off large parts of their businesses. Google would have to spin off its search business, among other services.
The plan would directly target Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as Amazon's takeover of Whole Foods and Google's absorption of mapping company Waze and ad firm DoubleClick.
She made the pitch ahead of a rousing town hall appearance Friday in the New York City neighborhood where Amazon recently scrapped plans to open a new headquarters.
The big tech companies have faced increasing scrutiny in recent months over allegations of improper monopoly behavior. The agreements were done in secret, behind closed doors, they didn't engage the community. Dismantling some of the most successful private enterprises in USA history would be far more radical. But progressive advocates for significant action on big tech see Warren's proposal as the end of the beginning for Big Tech.
Warren specifically called out acquisitions by Amazon, Facebook and Google in the past few years in her announcement about breaking up tech companies.
The industry isn't happy about it.
In Washington, the president of the US Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, said breaking up the big tech companies would "take us back to the Stone Age".
"They think they can run their business to just roll right over every small business, every entrepreneur, every start-up that might threaten their position".
Essentially, Warren wants to create a check on these behemoths and their power. And it would appoint new regulators to undo mergers they believe would smother competition.
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