The race for the Democratic presidential nomination has fuelled trepidation in Silicon Valley, as arguments for breaking apart the world’s largest tech firms achieve traction among the many areas of candidates, reported the Financial Times.
Both Bernie Sanders, who received the New Hampshire major, and his fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren, have been known as for wanting a break-up of America’s largest expertise firms. Moderates equivalent to Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden are pushing for additionally aggressive measures to curtail the ability of firms equivalent to Facebook, Amazon, and Google.
Arguments which were once confined to leftwing fringes are being examined more closely by government officials as well. Last week the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces competition laws, announced it would review every takeover by a large technology company of a smaller start-up in the past decade to see whether they had displayed anti-competitive behavior.
For decades, regulators had resisted taking action against companies on competition grounds unless consumers were being harmed through rising prices. But for the past few years, a small group of leftwing academics has argued that large technology companies are causing damage in other ways, such as by killing off smaller competitors and eroding data privacy.
This group is close to one candidate in particular: Ms Warren. “Competition is dying,” the senator said in a speech that first laid out her ideas on tech antitrust in 2016. “Consolidation and concentration are on the rise in sector after sector. Concentration threatens our markets, threatens our economy, and threatens our democracy.”
Through her advocacy, their ideas are now gaining a wide hearing in the 2020 presidential race. “What Warren is channelling is a variation of antitrust that the progressive left has managed to resurrect over the past five years,” said Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, which is funded in part by large tech companies.
Ms Warren’s 2016 speech, which has now become famous in legal and technology circles, was written after a series of informal policy seminars with Barry Lynn, director of the Open Markets Institute, and a handful of other like-minded academics and lawyers who have become her brains trust on tech policy. “This was the most important speech by a major public figure about the dangerous concentration in the United States since probably the 1930s,” said Mr Lynn.
“There was no recognition of the problem, and then there was that speech that highlighted the problem in a way that people could not ignore it.”