Warren targets Amazon, Apple, Google in anti-monopoly speech

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) on Wednesday laid into a handful of major U.S. technology companies, saying they are examples of concentrated corporate power that can thwart competition. 

“Google, Apple and Amazon provide platforms that lots of companies depend on for survival,” she said during a speech in the Capitol. “But Google, Apple and Amazon also in many cases compete with those small companies so that platform can become a tool to snuff out competition.”

{mosads}Warren said the European Union’s citizens “may soon enjoy better protections than U.S. customers” after the EU decided to push forward with anti-trust charges against Google’s search business, while the United States dropped its probe a few years back. 

She also highlighted the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation into whether Apple has improperly harmed rival music streaming companies in its app store. And she brought up allegations by authors that Amazon is using its dominant book-selling position to steer consumers away from rival publishers. 

And though regulators recently blocked Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, Warren called out the nation’s largest internet service provider, saying Comcast has been buying out its rivals over the years to the detriment of consumers. 

“While big telecom giants have been consuming each other, consumers have just been left out in the cold facing little to no choice in service providers and paying through the nose for cable and internet services,” she said. 

Warren conceded that major tech companies have changed the world and “deserve” their large profits and success. But she said they shouldn’t be able to thwart their rivals. 

“The opportunity to compete must remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors who want their own chance to change the world,” she said. 

Warren’s speech at an event sponsored by New America included some of her most fiery remarks targeted at the technology industry. 

Fresh off a recent campaign stop with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Warren said that “strong executive leadership” is necessary to revive anti-trust enforcement in the U.S. 

“Too often though they just don’t use that authority,” she said. 

Lamenting that Congress is “awash” in campaign contributions and corporate lobbying, she said the federal government needs to enforce existing laws. She also called for a “revival” of the movement that resulted in the creation of strong anti-trust laws. 

While applauding the Obama administration and Bill Clinton’s administration for increasing antitrust enforcement since the Reagan years, she said 2015 was “the biggest year for mergers in U.S. history, both in terms of the number of mergers and the size of mergers.”

She scolded regulators like the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice for approving mergers with anti-competitive implications. She said conditions in those approvals usually “just don’t work” and said enforcement of them is “weak at best.”

Other agencies, she said, like the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Agricultural Department also need to take a sharper focus on business competition. 

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