By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
Elizabeth Warren, the U.S. senator running for president, on Friday outlined her plans to break up what she calls “Big Tech” in what could be considered the most sweeping salvo against the industry.
Warren, a frequent critic of big business, said in an article on Medium that companies like Facebook Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +0.20% , Amazon.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -0.04% , and Alphabet’s Google /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL +0.44% /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG +0.45% have used mergers and proprietary marketplaces to limit competition.
Her plan would designate any online marketplace, exchange or platform for connecting third parties that is held by a company with global revenue of at least $25 billion a year as “platform utilities,” where companies would prohibiting from owning participants on that platforms, meet a standard of dealing with users and not be allowed to transfer or share data with third parties. Smaller companies would also face those same standards but wouldn’t have to structurally separate, according to the Warren plan.
Amazon Marketplace, Google’s ad exchange, and Google Search would be platform utilities under this law.
She also would appoint regulators who would unwind completed acquisitions such as Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp and Google’s acquisition of Waze.
“The steps I’m proposing today will allow existing big tech companies to keep offering customer-friendly services, while promoting competition, stimulating innovation in the tech sector, and ensuring that America continues to lead the world in producing cutting-edge tech companies,” Warren wrote.
Shares of those three companies were all lower as the broader market struggled in wake of lower-than-expected jobs growth numbers as well as concerns over China.
Warren so far has had one of the more detailed policy agendas of any of the major Democratic candidates. The RealClearPolitics average of Democratic polls puts her fourth behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris.
There has been bipartisan interest in promoting privacy legislation — aimed primarily at Facebook — but less in greater antitrust enforcement.