Elizabeth Warren has hit out at the tech industry in a new speech railing against consolidation and concentration in the American economy.
The Democratic senator singled out Apple, Google, and Amazon by name in the speech given in Washington on Wednesday, arguing they are abusing their power to unfairly block new entrants to the market.
“The decline in competition should cause concern [because] big guys can lock out smaller guys and newer guys,” Warren said. “Take a look at the technology sector — specifically, the battle between large platforms and small tech companies.
“Google, Apple, and Amazon provide platforms that lots of other companies depend on for survival. But Google, Apple, and Amazon also, in many cases, compete with those same small companies, so that the platform can become a tool to snuff out competition.”
(You can read the entire speech below.)
Apple, Amazon, and Google are in the firing line.
The 67-year-old Massachusetts resident calls out Apple Music, Apple’s music streaming service, as an alleged offender. “While Apple Music is easily available on the iPhone, Apple has placed conditions on its rivals that make it difficult for them to offer competitive streaming services.”
Amazon also comes under fire over the accusations levelled at it by authors that it “uses its position as the dominant bookseller to steer consumers to books published by Amazon to the detriment of other publishers,” as does Google over an FTC claim that it “was using its dominant search engine to harm rivals.”
Google, Apple, and Amazon “have created disruptive technologies that changed the world, and every day they deliver enormously valuable products,” Warren said. “They deserve to be highly profitable and successful. But the opportunity to compete must remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors that want their chance to change the world again.”
“Today, in America, competition is dying.”
This attack on tech sector consolidation is tied into a broader critique of the American economy. Right across the board, from airlines to banks, telecoms to health insurance, competition is dropping — and this will harm consumers, Warren argues.
“Anyone who loves markets knows that for markets to work, there has to be competition. But today, in America, competition is dying. Consolidation and concentration are on the rise in sector after sector. Concentration threatens our markets, threatens our economy, and threatens our democracy.”
Ultimately, this concentration could destroy startups, she says in her speech — the small business dream that drives the tech sector — and “pervert” democracy itself. Here’s a key part of her speech, emphasis ours:
“And who gets a shot at their own dream? When big business can shut out competition, entrepreneurs and small businesses are denied their shot at building something new and exciting.
“Left unchecked, concentration will destroy innovation. Left unchecked, concentration will destroy more small companies and start-ups. Left unchecked, concentration will suck the last vestiges of economic security out of the middle class. Left unchecked, concentration will pervert our democracy into one more rigged game.”
Spokespeople for Apple, Google, and Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.