Elizabeth Warren, who called for breakup of big tech, drops presidential bid

Warren thrust antitrust issues into the spotlight when she promised to bust up Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

On the campaign trail for president, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was an outspoken critic of big tech companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Rhona Wise/Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren on Thursday suspended her campaign to become the Democrats' nominee to run against President Donald Trump in the general election. The Massachusetts senator had promised to break up Silicon Valley's tech giants if she were elected president. 

Warren, at one time considered a possible front-runner in the race, saw her path to the nomination fade after she failed to do well in any of the early primary contests. Her campaign fell short of expectations on Super Tuesday as well, with Warren finishing third in her home state of Massachusetts. 

Last March, Warren released a plan calling for "big, structural changes" to break up big tech giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook

"Today's big tech companies have [too much power over] our economy, our society, and our democracy," she wrote in a blog post. "They've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation."

Warren accused the companies of using mergers to swallow up competition, and she railed against agencies like the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission for weak antitrust enforcement, which she said resulted in "a dramatic reduction" in competition and innovation in the tech industry.

Though many antitrust experts had been contemplating some of these ideas for years, Warren's plan pushed the issues into mainstream public debate, forcing other 2020 presidential candidates, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Vice President Joe Biden to take a stand. 

Sanders followed Warren's lead, saying he believes tech companies have too much power and that he'd "absolutely" look to break up Facebook, Google and Amazon.

Moderates such as Biden have called for strengthening regulation and beefing up enforcement at the FTC.

As for other tech issues, Warren was also the first presidential candidate to issue a sweeping plan to get broadband to rural America. She called for an ambitious $85 billion in funding to distribute grants to build new fiber networks for high-speed broadband. As part of this plan, she wanted to override states that try to prevent local municipalities from building their own broadband networks. 

She also proposed cutting out traditional telecommunications companies from the new funding. Instead, she said, her plan would fund electric co-ops and municipalities willing to build broadband networks in rural communities, much like New Deal programs had funded local communities in the 1930s to electrify rural parts of the US. 

Warren also supported bringing back net neutrality protections. And she promised to appoint only FCC commissioners who'd restore the Obama-era net neutrality rules that had been repealed in 2017 by Republicans.