Senator Warns Tech Breakup Opens Door To China

Sen. Mark Warner believes that breaking up big tech companies like Facebook and Google could make way for competition from overseas.

Last month, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is running for President, proposed a plan to break up large tech firms to create an even playing field. To achieve that, she wants to make certain firms into “platform utilities,” which would be defined as firms that have worldwide revenues of at least $25 billion.

But Warner warned that breaking apart these American companies will only open the door for foreign rivals.

“These are now companies that don’t exist in an American-only vacuum. These are all global companies,” the senator said, according to CNBC.

“I have some concern, as somebody who is very concerned about the rise of China, that if we were to kind of chop off the legs of Facebook and Google, that they might be replaced by Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent — companies that are totally enmeshed with the Chinese government in their global economic plan,” he added.

But that doesn’t mean Warner believes nothing should be done. In fact, the Democrat from Virginia just introduced the first in a series of bills to regulate Facebook and other social media companies.

“These companies have enormous, enormous power and we do need to introduce more competition,” said Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, according to CNBC.

The first bill, introduced with co-sponsor Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb. on Tuesday (April 9), bans online platforms with more than 100 million monthly active users from using “dark patterns,” which is when sites prompt users into carrying out actions that could result in giving up more information than they realize.

In addition, a separate legislation will regulate data transparency so that tech companies are forced to disclose the value of user data and how companies profit from it.

“This is going to be an issue that is not going to go away. It’s going to only potentially get worse. And we’ve got to roll up our sleeves … and solve it,” said Warner.

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