Beto O'Rourke wants to treat tech 'a little bit more like a utility' - Josh Loe

Beto O’Rourke wants to treat tech ‘a little bit more like a utility’

Beto O’Rourke, the 2020 presidential candidate and former congressman from Texas, responded to a question about breaking up the big tech companies.

O’Rourke, who officially entered the race on March 14, has emerged as a fundraising frontrunner, raking in $6.1 million in 24 hours. He gained Democratic star power during his failed 2018 Senate campaign against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, where he brought in a whopping $80 million while eschewing PAC money.

However, critics point to his seemingly nebulous stance on key issues, compared to some of his fellow 2020 competitors, who have released comprehensive policy plans. (Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for instance has released plans on affordable housing, universal child care, and regulating big tech.)

Read more: Beto O’Rourke just endorsed a healthcare idea called ‘Medicare for America’ which differs in some major ways from Bernie Sanders’ ‘Medicare for All’ plan

But voters are starting to get answers. He took some policy specific questions from the media on Wednesday in New Hampshire, while on a tour through all 10 counties of the state, which holds the first primary and is second only to the Iowa caucus.

O’Rourke was asked about Warren’s calls to break up the big tech companies — Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. — by CNN national reporter Eric Bradner.

He responded saying that while he’s not sure about breaking up the big tech companies, he does favor regulating them.

For O’Rourke the “best way to approach the fact that people have become the products on these platforms” is to “perhaps to treat them a little bit more like a utility.”

In his response he also touched on the fact that “they can be used wittingly or not to undermine our democracy and affect the outcomes of our elections.”

Warren, as recently as her CNN town hall on Monday, has proposed several specific policy changes to address big tech companies, which have grown in the past several decades and are struggling with issues like user privacy, nefarious uses of platforms, and the rise of false news stories.

Her plan would include appointing regulators to undo mergers of big tech companies, for example “break Facebook away from Instagram and WhatsApp, Amazon away from Whole Foods, Google away from Nest, and more,” she explained in a campaign email.

It also forbids selling user data to third parties, and would include what she calls “platform neutrality.”

During her Monday town hall, she explained that this would mean that companies could not own both the marketplace platform (Amazon for instance) and sell its own products on that marketplace (Amazon’s brand of batteries for example).

Other candidates like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar have also said they would like tighter regulations on big tech, INSIDER’s Eliza Relman noted. O’Rourke now joins that crowd.

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