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Elizabeth Warren Praised for Plan to Break Up Tech Giants

"A new anti-monopoly movement is happening, and Warren is coming out swinging at the right targets!" says Zephyr Teachout

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote Friday that big technology companies like Amazon have been allowed to accrue too much power—and she's got a plan to stop it.  (Photo: Marc Nozell/flickr/cc)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled her plan for how to break up the nation's technology behemoths on Friday. 

The Democratic senator from Massachusetts, who's seeking the Democratic nomination for president, laid out her proposal in a Medium post entitled "Here's How We Can Break Up Big Tech." In the post, Warren argued that it's essential to crack down on the unfair market advantage enjoyed by Amazon, Facebook, and Google in order to boost competition and fuel innovation.

Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout praised the plan, calling it as a sign that a "new anti-monopoly movement is happening, and Warren is coming out swinging at the right targets!" Agreeing with Warren, she added, "The big tech monsters are conglomerates with too much power that they use to extract wealth and data from all us of us as if we are subjects in their feudal regimes."

Warren described the problem thusly:

Today's big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else.

The impacts of this power, she wrote, are clear:

With fewer competitors entering the market, the big tech companies do not have to compete as aggressively in key areas like protecting our privacy. And some of these companies have grown so powerful that they can bully cities and states into showering them with massive taxpayer handouts in exchange for doing business, and can act—in the words of [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg—"more like a government than a traditional company."

The tech giants have utilized a two-pronged strategy to amass this power, Warren said: using mergers to eat up potential competitors—like Facebook buying Instagram—and getting passes from federal regulators who've failed to assert their authority to block anti-competitive mergers.

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Warren proposed her own two-pronged strategy to counter the tech giants:

First, by passing legislation that requires large tech platforms to be designated as "Platform Utilities" and broken apart from any participant on that platform. [...]

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

Making such changes, she argued, would make sure "that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last."

"Sen. Warren’s proposal rightly recognizes that digital platforms have become the core infrastructure of our economy," said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and author of multiple deep-dives into Amazon's threats to an open market. "If we're going to restore competition and protect the free exchange of goods and ideas, then we cannot allow Amazon and other big tech companies to continue to use their control of this infrastructure to privilege their own goods and services at the expense of their competitors."

Calling Warren's proposal "smart and practical," Open Markets Institute fellow Matt Stoller said it also showed that it's been a "good week for anti-monopolists."

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