Biden calls for unity against abuses by big tech companies

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A recent Biden administration op-ed called for a bipartisan effort to put in place stricter regulations on how big tech companies collect and use personal data, including a total ban on targeted advertising to children.

The Wall Street Journal article argues that the federal government has reached the point of no return in its legislation on regulating large tech companies and that major reforms are needed, including a change in the Section 230 rules that legally separate online platforms from content that is self-published on them. 

The administration also raised the possibility of even greater antitrust scrutiny, saying that « a more level playing field » is needed so that small, fledgling companies aren’t « stifled » by the big tech players.

The main theme of the op-ed was the need to set aside partisan differences to reduce the power of large tech companies, primarily by limiting how these companies collect and use personal data.

The article supports key provisions of a bipartisan privacy bill introduced in the Senate in 2022, which calls for further limiting targeted advertising, including banning it entirely from children. The bill had also proposed raising the age for special protections for minors from 12 to 16.

The administration also reiterated its position on revising Section 230, the code that ensures that major technology platforms cannot be held liable as a « publisher » or « speaker » for any content posted or uploaded by their users (outside of criminal acts and intellectual property violations). 

The administration’s opposition to Section 230 is based on the belief that misinformation and disinformation are rampant on social media and that these platforms are not doing enough to moderate them.

The editorial also addresses antitrust issues, but without providing much detail. It calls for a more level playing field for new entrants, a theme that has been echoed in existing antitrust investigations of Apple’s App Store, among others.

One of the specific criticisms raised by the release concerns the « exploitation » of personal data by large technology companies and how their alleged lack of content moderation promotes « extremism and polarization. »

The administration also cited risks to the civil rights of women and minorities, but did not provide specific examples.

While Biden’s op-ed does not fundamentally advance the debate about technology’s excesses and possible solutions, it does publicly state his (reluctant) opposition to the problems of the technology world. 

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