- Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman who is running for president in 2020, responded Wednesday to a question about breaking up big tech companies.
- O’Rourke, who officially entered the presidential race on March 14, has emerged as a fundraising frontrunner, raking in $US6.1 million in 24 hours.
- The CNN national reporter Eric Bradner asked O’Rourke about calls from his fellow presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to break up the big tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
- O’Rourke said the “best way to approach the fact that people have become the products on these platforms” is to “perhaps to treat them a little bit more like a utility.”
Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman who is running for president in 2020, has responded to a question about breaking up the big tech companies.
O’Rourke, who officially entered the race March 14, quickly emerged as a fundraising frontrunner, raking in $US6.1 million in the first 24 hours after announcing his campaign. He gained Democratic star power during his failed 2018 Senate campaign against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, taking in a whopping $US80 million while eschewing PAC money.
Critics, however, have pointed to his seemingly nebulous stance on key issues, compared with some of his 2020 competitors who have released comprehensive policy plans. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, for instance, has released plans on affordable housing, universal childcare, and regulating big tech.
But voters are starting to get answers. He took some policy-specific questions from the media on Wednesday in New Hampshire while on a tour through all 10 counties of the state, which holds the first primary and is second in voting only to the Iowa caucuses.
The CNN national reporter Eric Bradner asked O’Rourke about Warren’s calls to break up the big tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
He responded that while he was not sure about breaking up the big tech companies, he did favour regulating them.
O’Rourke said the “best way to approach the fact that people have become the products on these platforms” was “perhaps to treat them a little bit more like a utility.”
He also touched on the fact that they could “be used wittingly or not to undermine our democracy and affect the outcomes of our elections.”
Warren, as recently as her CNN town hall on Monday, has proposed several specific policy changes involving the biggest tech companies, which are under scrutiny over issues like user privacy, nefarious uses of platforms, and the quick spread of disinformation.
Her plan would include appointing regulators to undo mergers of big tech companies. As examples in a campaign email, she said “break Facebook away from Instagram and WhatsApp, Amazon away from Whole Foods, Google away from Nest, and more.”
Her plan would also forbid selling user data to third parties and would include what she calls “platform neutrality.”
During her Monday town hall, she said this would mean that tech companies could not both own a marketplace platform and sell their own products on that marketplace (Amazon, for example, selling its brand of batteries on Amazon).
Other candidates like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar have also said they would like tighter regulations on big tech, INSIDER’s Eliza Relman noted. O’Rourke now joins that crowd.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.