By Zachary Karabell, Wired
In the shadow of impeachment, the push to break up Big Tech continues to build. Last week, the House of Representatives held a hearing that saw the industry accused of bullying and oligopolistic practices. “They have come to use the scope of their platforms and their overwhelming dominance in certain markets to unfairly disadvantage competitors and squelch potential competition,” said the CEO of wireless speaker company Sonos, which is suing Google for patent infringement.
The same sentiment has fueled a movement that now comprises investigations by multiple federal agencies and most state attorneys general. It has also been embraced by leading Democratic candidates for president. Last May, Joe Biden called antitrust enforcement against Big Tech “something we should take a really hard look at.” The progressive wing is more emphatic: In a December interview with The New York Times, Bernie Sanders said of the big technology companies, “I think we should be breaking them up.” Elizabeth Warren has been arguing since last spring that the concentration of power in Big Tech has “bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else.”
The escalating animus toward Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google—fueled by the conviction that these megacompanies imperil not just consumers and competition but privacy and democratic discourse—is one of the few areas of American life that can be considered truly bipartisan. It enjoys polling support not just among a majority of Democrats but in similar proportions of both Republicans and independents.