DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL Elizabeth Warren has decided that being female isn't a big enough set back in the application for a job that hasn't hired a woman in the 145 previous attempts. Now she's going after some of the richest companies in the world - two of which were said to have had an impact on the outcome of the last election.
Some people like to play games on 'hard mode', we guess.
Warren took aim at the likes of Amazon, Facebook and Google in a blog post on Medium, where she outlined her vision to break up the tech giants in order to make the playing field a little easier for competitors.
"Today's big tech companies have too much power - too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy," the Massachusetts senator wrote. "They've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else."
It's hard to argue too hard with that analysis, but what are her solutions? They're two-fold. The first is to designate large tech companies as ‘platform utilities'. "These companies would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform," Warren explains.
The second part involves reversing the trend of tech giants gobbling up smaller companies, which she sees as anti-competitive. "I will appoint regulators who are committed to using existing tools to unwind anti-competitive mergers," she writes, citing Amazon (Whole Foods; Zappos), Facebook (WhatsApp; Instagram) and Google (Waze; Nest; DoubleClick) as particularly notable examples.
With these changes, Warren claims American's internet experience won't change for the worse: "You'll still be able to go on Google and search like you do today. You'll still be able to go on Amazon and find 30 different coffee machines that you can get delivered to your house in two days. You'll still be able to go on Facebook and see how your old friend from school is doing."
The difference, she says is that smaller companies will get a fairer shake of the stick. "Small businesses would have a fair shot to sell their products on Amazon without the fear of Amazon pushing them out of business. Google couldn't smother competitors by demoting their products on Google Search. Facebook would face real pressure from Instagram and WhatsApp to improve the user experience and protect our privacy. Tech entrepreneurs would have a fighting chance to compete against the tech giants."
It's certainly a brave move. Our gut feeling is that most casual observers don't view tech monopolies as the biggest issue around, and there's always the possibility - however remote - that these companies could just threaten to literally take their business elsewhere.
Not to mention the fact that Facebook has previously proven it can tweak voter turnout with something as simple as a notification if it feels like it. Add that to geotargeting, and it's not implausible for a candidate to be buried before they even begin. And the opaque nature of these companies means nobody would ever be any the wiser, which kind of underlines Warren's point.
Perhaps the main enemy Warren made in the post, though, was Microsoft. After explaining the legacy of the anti-trust action taken against the company in the 1990s, she puts the boot into everyone's least favourite search engine. "Aren't we all glad that now we have the option of using Google instead of being stuck with Bing?"
She'll be bullying Clippy next. µ
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