Mar 8, 2019

Elizabeth Warren proposes Big Tech breakup

Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Friday that she would take steps to break apart Google, Facebook and Amazon if elected.

Why it matters: It's the most significant tech policy idea proposed on the presidential campaign trail so far, and in keeping with a moment where policymakers of both parties have grown skeptical of the power of big web platforms.

Details: The Massachusetts senator's plan involves two key steps.

  • Get legislation passed making it illegal for companies with over $25 billion in worldwide revenue to act as both operators and users of a platform.
  • Amazon, for example, couldn't sell its private-label products — like AmazonBasics batteries — that compete with third-party merchants on its Marketplace platform. Aspects of Google's ad and search platforms would be split apart, too, she said in a post.
  • Install regulators willing to go back and break up already-closed mergers.
  • On the list: Amazon's purchases of Whole Foods and Zappos. Google's purchases of ad product DoubleClick, Waze and Nest. Facebook's acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram.

Yes, but: Even if elected, nothing's a sure thing. A President Warren couldn't take these steps without some level of congressional support, since one of her proposals requires passing a law and major antitrust regulators require Senate confirmation.

The big picture: This proposal is a boon for a growing anti-monopoly movement that critics have derisively called "hipster antitrust."

  • Scholars in its ranks say that American competition enforcement has failed and that corporate consolidation has played a role in many societal problems.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 855,007 — Total deaths: 42,032 — Total recoveries: 176,714.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 186,265 — Total deaths: 3,810 — Total recoveries: 6,910.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful" on Tuesday, with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans. The White House and other institutions are observing several models to help prepare for when COVID-19 is expected to peak in the U.S.
  6. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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White House projects 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths

President Trump said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the next two weeks in the U.S. will be "very painful" and that he wants "every American to be prepared for the days that lie ahead," before giving way to Deborah Birx to explain the models informing the White House's new guidance on the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's a somber new tone from the president that comes after his medical advisers showed him data projecting that the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Paying rent in a pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

For many people who've lost jobs or income because of the coronavirus pandemic, tomorrow presents a stressful decision: Do you pay your rent or mortgage?

Why it matters: The new CARES Act that was signed by President Trump on Friday protects homeowners and renters who are suffering from the response to the coronavirus pandemic — but it's not “a one-size-fits-all policy rulebook,” a congressional aide tells Axios.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Health