Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has been throwing a lot of stuff against the wall of late, policy ideas she hopes will stick and help propel her to the White House.
“Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy.”
First it was a wealth tax, then universal childcare and now it’s big tech she’s taking aim at.
Warren, D-Mass., unveiled a plan Friday to break up tech companies like Amazon and Facebook in an attempt to limit the growth of Silicon Valley.
Warren said in a blog post on Medium.com that she wants to make “big, structural changes to the tech sector to promote more competition.” The structural changes include breaking up Amazon, Facebook and Google parent company Alphabet, companies that have been under a great deal of scrutiny of late due to data and private information security.
“Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy,” Warren wrote. “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.”
Her post didn’t mention Apple, though, her campaign says her plan also would affect the iPhone and tech giant, saying it would have to choose between running its App Store or building its own apps, but could not both.
Ideas like this are gaining popularity on the left, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also unveiling legislation to protect consumer data.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also has targeted Amazon, urging the company to boost wages and worker benefits.
Warren’s plan includes designating certain companies as “platform utilities,” or “companies with an annual global revenue of $25 billion or more” that “offer to the public and online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties.”
“These companies would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform,” Warren wrote. “Platform utilities would be required to meet a standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users. Platform utilities would not be allowed to transfer or share data with third parties.”
Parties would have the right to sue over a violation of those rules, and a violation would result in a fine worth 5 percent of annual revenue.
Amazon’s marketplace, where third-party vendors sell products, would have to split from AmazonBasics, the company’s in-house brand, and Google would have to cut off its search business.
Warren also said she will appoint regulators to undo “anti-competitive mergers,” like Amazon owning Whole Foods, Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram, and Google’s purchase of Waze.
“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,” Warren wrote. “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.”