Liberal Democrat leader calls for tech giants to be broken up

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has called for Google, Amazon and Facebook to be broken up, comparing them to US oil monopolies that exploited their market power more than a century ago.

In an under-reported speech, Cable said recent scandals including the Facebook Cambridge Analytica revelations meant the tech giants had “progressed from heroes to villains very quickly”. He said: “Just as Standard Oil once cornered 85% of the refined oil market, today Google drives 89% of internet searches, 95% of young adults on the internet use a Facebook product, Amazon accounts for 75% of ebook sales, while Google and Apple combined provide 99% of mobile operating systems.”

Cable raised four concerns: the use of platforms such as YouTube “as a conduit for content which society regards as unacceptable”; the systematic spread of fake news; the firms’ sheer size, making them “a barrier rather than a boon to entrepreneurship”, and the inability of tax authorities to force them to pay their fair share. He called for mergers to be more closely scrutinised and for authorities to break up firms that exploit their dominance to harm consumers.

You can read the full speech here.


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