Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has voiced support for presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to break up parts of the tech industry, including Amazon and Facebook, Politico reported today.
“The idea itself is something that I am supportive of because taking an antitrust approach I believe is absolutely relevant and it’s appropriate to take,” the progressive firebrand said in an interview with Politico this week. She didn’t offer a detailed plan for breaking up the tech giants, nor did she point to a specific piece of legislation. But she indicated the tech antitrust issue to be a future area of interest.
“I think what I’ve been doing more has been getting more overall briefs on this space from academic and legal perspectives,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s something I’ve definitely been keeping an ear on the ground for.”
Ocasio-Cortez voiced similar opinions on tech antitrust while she campaigned for her House seat in 2018. She’s also been deeply critical of Amazon, which pulled out of its bid to build a second headquarters in New York City earlier this year.
In the interview, AOC said Amazon’s role as “both the marketplace, producer, seller . . . creates an antitrust issue.”
On Facebook antitrust, she remarked: “Facebook as a basic communications platform while also selling ads and also being a surveillance platform, I think those functions should be broken up, but how that gets levied and how that gets approached is what we need to take a fine-tooth comb at.”
We reached out to Amazon and Facebook for comment and will update if we hear back.
Of the Democratic presidential candidates who have spoken out on Warren’s proposals to break up Big Tech, most have backed away from full support. Pete Buttigieg, for example, said during a CNN town hall last month that he thought the Federal Trade Commission should have more power to review and intervene in big tech mergers but didn’t support the break up of existing giants like Amazon and Facebook.
But Ocasio-Cortez’s support for the idea signals that the younger, far-left wing of the party may be warming up to the idea. And as polling data shows, the Democratic electorate is supportive of, and listening to, the young left’s worldview.
Warren’s argument for breaking up Big Tech companies centers on competition. She asserts that Big Tech companies shouldn’t be able to operate an e-commerce platform and, at the same time, sell their own products on that platform with all the competitive advantages inherent in owning the platform (data, product placement, etc). If a smaller producer or developer depends on the platform to reach consumers, then both are hurt if the platform owner puts competitive barriers in the way.
In a response on Twitter last week, Amazon pushed back on some of Warren’s claims, denying, for instance, that its users seller data to launch new products.