A renewed focus on antitrust from lawmakers like Elizabeth Warren and prominent critics like Barry Lynn could make “breaking up big tech” a cornerstone of the next presidential election
WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) rolled out the most ambitious policy plan of her presidential campaign — and arguably of any 2020 candidate — when she called for breaking up of the nation’s three tech giants: Facebook, Amazon and Google.
Amazon’s e-commerce sales made up almost half of all U.S. online spending last year. A staggering 70 percent of Internet traffic flowed through websites controlled by Facebook or Google. More than 67 percent of digital advertising revenues in 2018 went to Google, Facebook and Amazon. “Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society and our democracy,” Warren wrote in a Medium post. “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.”
In other words, these companies are monopolies. And like Standard Oil in the early 20th century and Microsoft two decades ago, Warren says, they need to be shrunk in size. (Facebook briefly took down ads on its platform bought by Warren’s campaign to promote her plan, citing a violation of company guidelines, but later backtracked.)
After years of neglect, the issues of antitrust and anti-monopoly are undergoing a renaissance. Warren is not the only 2020 contender to weigh in. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the top Democrat on the Senate antitrust subcommittee, has said America has “a major monopoly problem,” connecting the rise in drug prices and the recent tech privacy scandals to industry consolidation. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is running for president once again on a platform that includes breaking up the nation’s largest banks.
Rolling Stone can report that Warren, Klobuchar, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and ex-Congressman John Delaney will appear on Saturday, March 30th, at the Heartland Forum in Storm Lake, Iowa, to debate America’s monopoly problem and offer solutions. (Every declared and likely Democratic candidate was invited, a spokesman for the event says.)