Breaking up technology giants hits the campaign trail

Elizabeth Warren said she will break up the giants of the tech industry if elected president, what does that mean for her and the campaign?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign took an interesting and welcomed turn last week with the announcement that she would break up the big tech companies should she be elected president in 2020. Her campaign announced this aspect of her platform in a blog post this morning.

The move is a first and most drastic proposal by a presidential candidate thus far on the issue. The regulatory and antitrust realm of the world has been bubbling with the problem of tech giants for the last few years. Facebook’s powerful grip was the first time the conversation about regulations and antitrust became mainstream in a while.

“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. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.”

I’m not sure there’s an argument to be made about Warren’s statement that these large companies have bulldozed competition and used private information for profit. What’s important with this topic is that people have to reframe how they view Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.

These companies have grown to control and dominate their respective areas much like oil and energy companies did in the early 20th century. The difference, I think, is that these tech companies are monopolizing different areas of business. Amazon was just online shopping, now it controls the majority of web services, and is now aiming for the grocery store and pharmaceutical markets.

Tech giants are removing competition around them and simply buying or overwhelming companies that could compete in their markets.

“To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it’s time to break up our biggest tech companies.”

So first I find it interesting that she’s made this apart of her main platform so early on. It clearly sets her apart from her opponents and is a distinct line in the sand. So much so that after her announcement Facebook was blocking ads for her for a short time, before resolving it.

The example couldn’t have been more poignant about the amount of power Facebook has over advertising. Again, this is easy to do with things like Facebook and Google’s hold over advertising. It’s also easy with Apple and its App Store.

When it becomes more difficult is smaller companies being engulfed into larger companies. Such as Amazon’s constant purchases of security companies. How you legislate this with antitrust policy is complex and difficult, but the conversation is a necessary step in the direction of competition and the betterment of society.