Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced Friday that she will propose to break up some of America’s largest tech companies, which includes Facebook, Google, and Amazon, as a means to separate herself from the large swathe 2020 presidential Democrat primary candidates.
Warren will hold a presidential campaign rally in Long Island City, New York, which was supposed to be the hub of a major new Amazon headquarters, and called for the appointment of regulators who would “unwind tech mergers that illegally undermine competition.” Warren will also call for legislation that would block platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.
Warren said in a statement Friday:
I want a government that makes sure everybody — even the biggest and most powerful companies in America — plays by the rules. 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.
The Massachusetts Democrat, who has largely been critical of large financial companies, said that the plan would unravel large tech giants’ acquisitions of rival tech companies. For instance, her plan would unwind Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, and Google’s purchase of Waze. Warren’s plan would also prohibit companies from transferring or sharing users’ private data with third parties. Warren would also split up Amazon entities such as Amazon Marketplace and AmazonBasics.
“To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it’s time to break up our biggest tech companies,” Warren added.
Under the Massachusetts senators’ plan, companies with more than $25 billion in annual global revenue would have to “structurally separate” their products and marketplace, while those companies between $90 million and $25 billion in revenue would face regulations but would not have separate their operations.
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. Republicans and Democrats have both increasingly voiced concern and called for regulating large social media and tech companies over violating Americans’ privacy.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have signaled a willingness to curb big tech’s influence, although, they have not presented a clear-cut policy proposal. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who represents many of those large companies in California, has called on big tech executives to improve their privacy policies but has avoided calls to regulate the companies. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has largely been willing to embrace the big tech giants.
Warren’s plan reportedly received praise from technology regulation and privacy scholars such as Siva Vaidhyanathan and Frank Pasquale.
Faiz Shakir, an executive for the ACLU, said in January, “Elizabeth Warren is trying to position herself as the ideas candidate of the field, and thus far, in the early going, she’s winning that.”
“Others should start thinking about competing in the arena for new ideas,” Shakir added. He has since joined Mr. Sanders’s presidential bid as its campaign manager.