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Warren Calls for Breakup of Amazon, Google and Facebook

Friday, March 08, 2019
GoLocalPDX Business Team

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren proposed to break up big tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

“Twenty-five years ago, Facebook, Google, and Amazon didn’t exist. Now they are among the most valuable and well-known companies in the world. It’s a great story – but also one that highlights why the government must break up monopolies and promote competitive markets,” said Warren in her blog post.

She added, “In the 1990s, Microsoft – the tech giant of its time – was trying to parlay its dominance in computer operating systems into dominance in the new area of web browsing. The federal government sued Microsoft for violating anti-monopoly laws and eventually reached a settlement. The government’s antitrust case against Microsoft helped clear a path for Internet companies like Google and Facebook to emerge.”

Warren’s Proposal

In her blog post, Warren proposed two ways of breaking up the “tech giants.”

For companies with annual global revenues of $25 billion or more and that offer to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties, they would be designated as a “platform utilities.”

“These companies would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform. 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,” said Warren in her blog post.

For smaller companies with global revenue of between $90 million and $25 billion, “their platform utilities would be required to meet the same standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users, but would not be required to structurally separate from any participant on the platform.”

Amazon Marketplace, Google’s ad exchange, and Google Search would be platform utilities under this law.

Enforcing the Proposals

According to Warren’s blog, to enforce the proposals, “federal regulators, State Attorneys General, or injured private parties would have the right to sue a platform utility to enjoin any conduct that violates these requirements, to disgorge any ill-gotten gains, and to be paid for losses and damages. A company found to violate these requirements would also have to pay a fine of 5 percent of annual revenue.”

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