Wednesday 19 June 2019 3:34 pm

Activists call for break up of Google

Protesters are calling on Google’s parent company Alphabet to break itself up before it is forced to by regulators.

Sum Of Us, a US-based activist group, will ask shareholders to vote on breaking the company up at a meeting at the company’s offices in California today.

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“Officials in the US & EU continue to be concerned about Alphabet’s market power in view of restrictions on monopolies,” the group’s proposal said.

“We believe that shareholders could receive greater value from a voluntary strategic reduction in the size of the company than from asset sales compelled by regulators.”

However, Alphabet’s chief executive Larry Page and president Sergey Brin own a combined 51.3 per cent of shareholder votes, meaning the proposal has no realistic chance of success.

The motion shows a growing focus on the prospect of antitrust action against Alphabet and other big technology firms such as Facebook and Amazon as they face a political and public backlash over privacy issues and the power they have over the world’s information.

The breakup proposal is one of a record of 13 on the ballot at Alphabet’s meeting.

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A group of Google employees is backing five of the proposals, which it helped craft, but not the proposal to split the company.

Tibetan and Uighur ethnic group leaders concerned about Google’s work in China are among speakers expected to speak at demonstrations before the meeting.

Alphabet said in shareholder materials its existing policies address issues raised in the proposals and declined to comment further.