For decades Silicon Valley has been America’s growth engine, but increasingly, Democratic candidates seem eager to cripple the tech industry in the name of fighting income inequality. Kiran Stacey and Kadhim Shubber report in FT:
The race for the Democratic presidential nomination has fuelled trepidation in Silicon Valley, as arguments for breaking up the world’s largest tech companies gain traction among the field of candidates.
Both Bernie Sanders, who won the New Hampshire primary, and his fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren, have called for a break-up of America’s largest technology companies. Moderates such as Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden are also looking at aggressive measures to curtail the power of companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google.
Arguments that were once confined to leftwing fringes are being examined more closely by government officials as well. Last week the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces competition laws, said it would review every takeover by a large technology company of a smaller start-up in the past decade to see whether they had displayed anti-competitive behaviour.
For decades, regulators had resisted taking action against companies on competition grounds unless consumers were being harmed through rising prices.
But for the past few years, a small group of leftwing academics has argued that large technology companies are causing damage in other ways, such as by killing off smaller competitors and eroding data privacy.
This group is close to one candidate in particular: Ms Warren.
“Competition is dying,” the senator said in a speech that first laid out her ideas on tech antitrust in 2016. “Consolidation and concentration are on the rise in sector after sector. Concentration threatens our markets, threatens our economy, and threatens our democracy.”