Where US presidential candidates stand on breaking up Big Tech
January 26, 2020
Here are the leading presidential candidates’ positions on Big Tech.
- President Donald Trump: Has stopped short of calling for tech giants to be broken up, but said “obviously there is something going on in terms of monopoly,” when asked about major tech companies in the past. President Trump’s Department of Justice announced in July it was conducting an antitrust review of “market-leading online platforms.”
- Former Vice President Joe Biden: Slammed big tech companies in Jan, saying he had “never been a fan of Facebook” and arguing that online platforms should not be allowed immunity for content posted by users. He also clashed with Facebook and Google over their political ad policies after they refused to take down a Trump ad that the Biden team said contained false claims about his son Hunter’s dealings with Ukraine.
- Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): Leading the charge to break up big tech companies on the grounds they hold outsized influence and stifle competition. She has called for legislation to restrict large tech platforms — which she would designate as “platform utilities” — from owning and participating in a marketplace at the same time. Under this law, Apple would not be allowed to both run the App Store and sell its own apps on it, for example.
- Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT): Called for the breakup of big tech companies such as Facebook and Amazon. Like Sen Warren, also said that he will have the Federal Trade Commission review all mergers that have taken place during the Trump administration. His broad plan to reshape corporate America would also mandate all large companies be owned partly by their workers.
- Pete Buttigieg: Became Facebook’s 287th user shortly after it was launched in 2004 at Harvard University, where he was a student. Has been more reluctant to slam the tech giants than some other candidates. Though he has said that the breakup of big tech companies “should be on the table,” the former South Bend (IN) mayor does not think it is a politician’s place to designate which companies should be broken up.
- Sen Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): Has made oversight of big technology companies one of her major issues in Congress and argued for data privacy laws and net neutrality safeguards as priorities at her campaign launch in Feb. Has not endorsed Sen Warren’s plan for their breakup, saying that she would first want investigations. Her plan for her first 100 days in office includes an “aggressive retrospective review of mergers,” which she said she would pay for with an extra merger fee on “megamergers.”
- Michael Bloomberg: In Jan said that breaking up big tech companies “just to be nasty is not an answer” and that he does not think Sens Warren and Sanders “know what they’re talking about” on the issue. He said he was open to more limited antitrust enforcement.
- Andrew Yang: Although Yang has said “we would be well served” if big tech companies were to break themselves up, he has argued that competition is not the answer to key problems with big tech. Yang has focused on the negative effects of tech on mental health and said he would create a Department of Attention Economy to look at how to responsibly design and use apps and devices.
- Tom Steyer: Says that monopolies either have to be dismantled or regulated, but that to win against Trump, Democrats will have to “show the American people that we don’t just know how to tax and have programs to break up companies.” Steyer’s campaign has been noted for its massive ad spending, which helped push him to the debate stage, including more than $17 million in Facebook ads.
Where U.S. presidential candidates stand on breaking up Big Tech