Elizabeth Warren: ‘It’s Time to Break Up’ Amazon, Facebook and Google

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks to local residents during an organizing event

Warren made the pitch before a town hall appearance on Friday in the NY neighbourhood where Amazon recently abandoned plans to open a new headquarters after a fierce backlash from progressive activists.

"Today's big tech companies have too much power - too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy".

The senator, who is now seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, pledged to "make big, structural changes to the tech sector to promote more competition" in a Warren administration.

The proposal would impose new regulations on two tiers of companies: those worth more than annual global revenue of $25 billion or higher, and those with revenue between $90 million and $25 billion. Warren will also call for legislation that would block platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.

Warren specifically cited Amazon Marketplace, Google's ad exchange, and Google Search as examples of platform utilities and said, "Amazon Marketplace and Basics, and Google's ad exchange and businesses on the exchange would be split apart", while adding that Google Search would also have to be spun off. Google couldn't smother competitors by demoting their products on Google Search.

Second, my administration would appoint regulators committed to reversing illegal and anti-competitive tech mergers.

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Warren said the large tech giants had used mergers to "limit competition", citing examples such as Facebook's acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp; Amazon using its market power to "force" smaller competitors, such as Diapers.com, to sell to the company; and Google buying mapping company Waze and advertising company DoubleClick.

The senator further stressed that such changes will not impact how Americans use Google, Facebook and Amazon. Another candidate, Amy Klobuchar, the top Democrat on the Senate judiciary antitrust subcommittee, told the Center for American Progress thinktank in Washington this week: "For so long, every time we proposed things like this, it was: 'You're trying to regulate the web". "Now they are among the most valuable and well-known companies in the world".

Warren argued that federal anti-monopoly pressure on Microsoft in the 1990s helped pave the way for Internet companies like Google.

"Aren't we all glad that now we have the option of using Google instead of being stuck with Bing?"

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.

Although the plan would impact all of the tech industry's biggest players, Amazon could be hit hardest. "And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation", Warren wrote in a blog post Friday.

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