December 5, 2020

Google breakup should ‘be on the table’


Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Sean Rayford | Getty Images

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is not shy about discussing breakups when it comes to alleged tech monopolies.

During a virtual keynote speech for the American Bar Association’s Fall Forum, Klobuchar praised the Justice Department for leaving open the option of so-called structural remedies in its recent antitrust lawsuit against Google.

“In a serious monopolization action like this one, it’s important that a breakup remedy be on the table,” she said.

Klobuchar’s name has been floated as a possible attorney general under President-elect Joe Biden, CNBC reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. She was an early Biden endorser after ending her own presidential bid earlier this year. Biden has announced no specific names for most cabinet positions, but did announce Ron Klain as his chief of staff on Wednesday.

But even if she remains in the Senate, Klobuchar will continue to be a force for tech companies to reckon with. Klobuchar already serves as the top Democrat on the Senate antitrust subcommittee, where she has been critical of the tech giants and introduced legislation aiming to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement.

Klobuchar could have more power if the Democrats win control of the Senate by winning two run-off races in Georgia. That outcome would split the Senate 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris acting as the tiebreaker vote. Such a split could give Klobuchar and Democrats more power to set the agenda and push through legislation.

Klobuchar said the Google case was an “important start” but noted that state attorneys general could still join and broaden the case, which will soon fall to the incoming Biden administration.

She also made clear that Congress needs to take action to ensure robust antitrust enforcement. She said a number of Supreme Court cases have made it more difficult for the government to succeed in antitrust challenges, leaving it up to lawmakers to reset expectations in the courts.

“If anyone’s waiting on the courts to solve our monopoly problem, that’s going to take a really long time,” Klobuchar said. “We need to update our laws. We really don’t have another choice besides increasing enforcement.”

WATCH: How US antitrust law works, and what it means for Big Tech



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