• Elizabeth Warren calls for breaking up Amazon

    By: Graham Johnson

    Updated:

    On stage Friday in Long Island City, where Amazon once planned to bring 25,000 jobs, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said, "It is time to break up America's tech giants."

    The presidential candidate argues that Amazon's products have an unfair advantage because the company also owns the selling platform.

    "They want to be the umpire in the baseball game, and they also want to run a bunch of teams in the game," Warren said. "My view on this is you can be an umpire or you can be a team, and you can't do both at the same time, so let's break up Amazon."

    Warren said her plan would preserve consumer choices and help small businesses.

    "Essentially, what it comes down to is weaponization and politicization of antitrust," said Carl Szabo, of the e-commerce association NetChoice.

    Szabo said it doesn't make sense to consider Amazon a monopoly.

    "Amazon is actually only the third-largest retailer in the world, and while that may constitute half of all e-commerce, there's still half left," Szabo said.

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    Warren cites the 1998 antitrust case against Microsoft as a success story for promoting competition.

    "It was a big deal when the government first brought the lawsuit because Internet Explorer was in danger of taking over the market for web browsers," said University of Washington economist Jacob Vigdor.

    But, he says, the point was moot by the time the Microsoft case was settled.

    "It really illustrates the challenges of trying to use antitrust policy against tech companies, because there's so much innovation happening that a company that has something that looks like a lot of market power can lose it in a matter of months," Vigdor said.

    Amazon has not commented on Warren's proposal.

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