The Upgrade

The Case Against Breaking Up Big Tech

Elizabeth Warren has a point, but too much regulation could strangle the sector

Lance Ulanoff
Published in
7 min readMar 22, 2019
Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty

AAfter witnessing decades of unfettered growth and ever-increasing influence and power, consumers have understandably fallen a little out of love with the tech industry. Nor does it help that tech has at times been acting like America’s abusive boyfriend — mishandling data, violating user privacy, policing closed ecosystems. What was once an adoring relationship has flipped to distrust — and, sometimes, outright hate.

The undeniable power of these platforms and the tech giants that build them has prompted a wave of regulation that started in Europe with the General Data Protection Regulation and is poised to crash onto U.S. shores.

To my mind, regulation is deserved and reasonable. Politicians, however, can’t resist going further, turning tech companies into political footballs. One politician in particular — senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren — is ready to play ball with a single-minded strategy: Break them up! In doing so, however, she may inadvertently dismantle years of economic and technological progress in the name of regulation.

Warren’s master plan for unwinding years of tech consolidation is the sharp snap at the end of the techlash whip.

Warren’s master plan for unwinding years of tech consolidation is the sharp snap at the end of the techlash whip. I could almost see the millions of fists shooting up into the air when Team Warren posted its manifesto to break up big tech on Medium last week. I groaned when I saw the on-the-nose headline and as I read some of the article’s frankly ignorant lines.

After detailing Microsoft’s efforts to dominate the internet in the 1990s by including Internet Explorer with every copy of Windows, Warren adds as an aside: “Aren’t we all glad that now we have the option of using Google instead of being stuck with Bing?”

Here’s a tech history lesson for the senior senator from Massachusetts. Microsoft launched Bing years after the company had decoupled Internet Explorer from Windows (albeit under…



Lance Ulanoff

Tech expert, journalist, social media commentator, amateur cartoonist and robotics fan.