An op-ed The Wall Street JournalJoe Biden, the President of the United States called for Democrats and Republicans to work together to pass strong bipartisan legislation that will keep technology companies under control. He did not name any business. Biden said that he is proud of America’s tech industry and expressed concern over how certain actors could “collect, use and exploit our most intimate data,” deepen extremism, polarization, and tilt the economy, violate civil rights, and put children at risk.
Biden identified three areas that need reform. Biden argued for “serious federal safeguards” in this area. He included “clear limitations on how companies may collect, use, and share high-personal data,” including location, browsing history, communications and health data, and biometrics and genetic data. Biden believes that companies should not be collecting too much of this data.
Biden stated that these protections must be stronger for youth who are particularly vulnerable online. We should restrict targeted advertising, and completely ban children’s online targeting. Meta stated yesterday that Instagram and Facebook could target teenagers with ads based upon their location and age, but not on their gender.
The president discussed the necessity for Big Tech companies to accept responsibility for their content and algorithms. He reiterated his conviction that legislators should amend Section 230, the 1996 Communications Decency Act. This protects online platforms against liability for user actions. Biden stated that Section 230 would be “revocation immediately,” if elected president. Although it hasn’t occurred yet, several senators and members have presented bills in Congress over the years to curtail Section 230.
Biden also demanded more information from tech giants about their algorithms to “stop them from discriminating or keeping opportunities away for equally qualified women and minority men, or pushing content that could threaten their mental health, safety, and security.” Algorithmic bias is a topic that has been hot for years in certain circles. For example, some believed Twitter’s algorithm was biased in favor of conservative views. Elected officials made numerous attempts to hold tech companies responsible for their algorithmic bias.
Senators also voiced concern about platforms’ inability to adequately protect children. Last February, a bipartisan bill was introduced to increase privacy and security for children on social media. It also required platforms to limit their exposure to material concerning self-harm and eating disorders.
Biden will also be focusing on boosting competition within the technology industry. He wrote that tech platforms can become large enough to allow people to market their products and charge them a lot to promote other products. My vision of the economy includes small businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as mom-and-pop shops and large corporations.
Biden called on legislators to give upstart businesses a better chance of success by creating more fair rules. He argued that the next generation of American great companies should not be suppressed by dominant incumbents.
He also stated that the president’s “administration made significant progress in encouraging competition across the economy, consistent my July 2021 executive orders.” He also urged Federal Communications Commission to reverse the dismantling by the prior administration of net neutrality. The executive can only do so much.
Big Tech must be held accountable by Congress through bipartisan action. There has been a lot talk about the creation of committees. Biden stated that it was time to actually walk the talk and do something. While there will be disagreements on many issues in Congress’s new Congress, bipartisan proposals for protecting our privacy, cyberstalking prevention, and antidiscrimination should not separate us. Let us unite around our common values to show that we are able to work together for the good of the country.
Biden now faces a divided Congress after the midterm elections of 2022. The Senate was held by the Democrats, but the House went to the Republicans. This will make it harder for Biden’s agenda to be carried out. Biden will be trying to get support from the general public and pressure Republicans to agree to his op-ed published in major newspapers.
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