Warren says tech giants have 'too much power,' need breakup

Warren says tech giants have 'too much power,' need breakup
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., waits to speak to local residents Friday, March 8, 2019, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on Friday rolled out a proposal to break up the biggest U.S. technology companies, saying they have too much control over the economy and Americans' lives.

In her pitch to rein in the influence of tech giants, the Massachusetts senator envisions legislation targeting companies with annual worldwide revenue of $25 billion or more, limiting their ability to expand and forcing parts of Google and Amazon's current business structure to operate as separate entities.

As president, Warren said she would pick regulators who would seek to break up what she called "anti-competitive mergers" such as Facebook's recent purchase of Instagram and Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods.

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.

It's Warren's latest effort to shape the policy agenda for the rest of the Democratic presidential primary, coming after earlier announcements of a "wealth tax" plan on households with high net worth and a universal child care proposal.

Her tech agenda, coming at a time of rising public concern about the growing power of the dominant players, could force the rest of her rivals for the 2020 nomination to follow her lead.

Warren says tech giants have 'too much power,' need breakup
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks to local residents Friday, March 8, 2019, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

During remarks before a crowd of more than 1,000 people in Queens, Warren touted elements of her new tech-industry plan as part of her stump speech. She took aim at Amazon's search for lavish economic incentives from cities competing for its headquarters, likening the company's efforts to pit areas against each other to the dystopian film "The Hunger Games."

"That's what's wrong with the system. It's not just that big tech companies like Amazon have enormous market power, which they do. They have enormous political power," Warren told the audience, describing the industry's lobbying expenditures as a "good return on investment if they can keep Washington from enforcing the antitrust laws."

It remains to be seen whether Warren will introduce legislation in the current Congress aligning with the first element of her plan. A spokeswoman, Kristen Orthman, said a bill introduction was not imminent.

Warren's latest policy proposal also promised to be a central element of her scheduled visit Saturday to the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California represents the tech industry's home state, while Sen. Cory Booker has come under scrutiny for his past ties to tech companies—though he's stepped up his criticism of the industry in recent years.

Facebook spokeswoman Monique Hall said the company had no comment on Warren's proposal. Representatives for Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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Mar 08, 2019
While it's true that services like Google and Amazon and Twitter and Facebook have too much power to 'make the weather,' I'd far sooner want to see Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, Monsanto, Comcast, CenturyLink, Verizon, Wells Fargo, Cigna, Electronic Arts, Fox, Exxon-Mobile, the NFL, Haliburton, Raytheon, the ULA, ALCOA, and Equifax broken up first before anyone considers going after Google. Let the need to break up a company be tied to the harm its existence has created for consumers and citizens and humanity and Earth.

Mar 08, 2019
This is worthless unless foreign companies like Softbank, Tencent and Alibaba that do business in the US get equal treatment.

Mar 08, 2019
Arbitrary legislation to overcome this problem is just bubble gum on a tire puncture - even if you nominally break up a corporation like Google (which they've already done by calling it "Alphabet"), it doesn't change a thing.

It's still the same people pulling the strings, only now it's more difficult to follow what they're doing because the records are broken up into pieces. Same thing goes for any lawsuit against the corporation: it becomes harder to touch the corporation and its owners when it exists as "independent" subsidiaries.

It also sets a dangerous precedent where the government is trying to play whack-a-mole with socioeconomic issues - because that requires a different philosophy of administration: rather than setting overarching rules for everyone to agree, the administration demands the arbitrary use of power without explicitly defining why and how they're allowed to exercise that power, to be able to react to each individual case and point.

Mar 10, 2019
"enforcing the antitrust laws"

Excuse me, what monopoly does Amazon constitute? There are dozens of online marketplaces that deliver, including Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Office Depot. There are three major and a dozen smaller cloud computing companies. There are four large online music providers, dozens of movie studios, several vendors of home automation/entertainment devices.

Where is the monopoly, Ms Warren?

Mar 10, 2019
Now if Warren would just admit the government has too much power, and we need to reduce its funding and its power. The federal government consumed less than 3% of GDP for about its first 130 years. Today it's more like 20%. And America prospered during that time.

Consider who has more power Google or the US government. Google can't force me to do anything, but whether it should be broken up depends on if its harmed anyone.

Mar 11, 2019
"The federal government consumed less than 3% of GDP for about its first 130 years."

Lawlessness, disease, no paved roads, horses used for transportation, geographic isolation, small population, zero sanitation, stone age technology, etc. etc. etc.

That is where Conservative Libertarians want America to return to. They call it "the good oll days"

Mar 11, 2019
"which they've already done by calling it "Alphabet"" - Eikka

Don't be stupid. Google hasn't been broken up simply because they have decided to call themselves "alphabet".

Google chrome and Google Plus for example are all intimately connected to Youtube. Once your account is blocked by Youtube, so is your Google Plus, Google drive, accounts and so too is your ability to use the sync features of Google Chrome.

The various components of Alphabet act as one company, and hence they represent one company.

To claim otherwise either demonstrates ignorance or complicity.

Mar 11, 2019
Wth, did you even read Eikka's post?? He/she has the most astute post here. Do you not know the term "nominally" or something?

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