As public scrutiny of the power wielded by major technology companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook increases, a new petition launched Wednesday urges all the candidates in the crowded 2020 presidential race to commit to breaking up big tech.
The call from progressive groups including Demand Progress and Roots Action targets the tech giants and states that the companies' "immense power and control have damaged democracy and the global economy."
The petition states, in part:
Last year, nearly half of all of U.S. e-commerce went through Amazon. Amazon's dominance crushes small businesses and leads to poor working conditions for warehouse workers. Amazon's massive physical footprint in Seattle has pushed low-income families and people of color out of their neighborhoods. Amazon technology helps ICE conduct immigration raids, and created the servers that helped ICE set up the administration's concentration camps.
Facebook and Google are so dominant, and have built algorithms that are so addictive, that more than 70% of all Internet traffic goes through Facebook and Google. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's decision to allow politicians to run ads with lies threatens to undermine the integrity of the 2020 elections and his pet currency project Libra threatens democracy—and some experts say Libra could take down the entire global economy.
"Amazon, Facebook, and Google are too big to be managed responsibly and need to be fundamentally transformed," said Salma Mirza, senior campaigner at Demand Progress, in a press statement. "The future of our democracy shouldn't be left to the whims of a few reckless billionaire CEOs and their dangerous corporate empires."
In the Democratic field, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has made clear she'd break up big tech if she makes it to the White House, unveiling a plan in March for how to do so.
The tech giants, she wrote at the time, have "bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else."
Another candidate vying for the Democratic ticket, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has also called for looking into a big tech break-up.
In a statement to Vox this month, his campaign said a Sanders administration would "reinvigorate the FTC and appoint an attorney general who will aggressively investigate and break up these tech giants and other conglomerates that have monopolized nearly every sector of our economy. These corporate giants control too much of what we see, hear, and read online and must be subjected to regulation and antitrust authority."