Technology giants are at the very heart of a political battle that has been going on for years. To start, these companies mostly aren’t regulated, which means they can get away with close to anything. But a new issue is emerging in Washington around tech giants and one that you might not have thought about. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, has published a proposal that suggests she would like to see some of America’s tech giants broken up. This includes Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Anti-trust regulations
Warren released her proposal before a rally in New York’s neighorhood where Amazon recently cancelled their HQ2, and called for appointing new regulators and passing legislation that would “unwind tech mergers that illegally undermine competition” and prohibit companies from selling their own goods in marketplaces where they operate. The big question is what can regulations do to minimize the amount of power that these tech giants have? And is this something that will get answered before the 2020 election?
Tech giant’s reputations have been in decline lately – but only to a certain extent. Why is this happening? Well, it has a lot to do with a series of privacy scandals – and on that note, Facebook has fallen the farthest. According to a recently released Harris Poll, when it
“I want a government that makes sure everybody—even the biggest and most powerful companies in America—plays by the rules. To do that, we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.”Elizabeth Warren, Democrat, Massachusetts
If elected president, Warren has plans to appoint “regulators committed to reversing illegal and anti-competitive tech mergers”, including Facebook and Instagram, Google and DoubleClick or Amazon and Whole Foods. Warren will target companies who have a global revenue of over $25 billion per year. The proposal further opens up the ability of federal regulators, state-level Attorneys General, and private citizens to sue the companies for violating the requirements. Fines could reach 5 percent of annual revenue.
All that said, this isn’t necessarily a new idea. In fact, European regulators recently fined Google $5.1 billion for antitrust violations and France now has plans to impose a tax that specifically targets American tech companies, which means things are likely to change.
Warren isn’t the only one to criticize tech giants – Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is also a 2020 Democratic candidate, offered up a new data privacy bill earlier this year. Mark Warner has also outlined 20 different regulations that would ultimately reign in tech giants.
As of right now, this is merely a campaign pledge. That said, lawmakers definitely need to come up with some kind of regulations in order to ensure that the power that they currently have doesn’t get out of hand completely. What these regulations will look like is anyone’s guess, and lawmakers on either side of the aisle will have to come to some kind of agreement on what that will look like.