Biden is targeting big tech: data gathering, youth advertising targeting, and monopolistic methods.
In short: President Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union address yesterday, in which he highlighted some of the worst practices of tech companies: over-collection of data, ads targeting children, and monopoly corporations acting anticompetitively.
Previous U.S. presidents have had a strained relationship with big tech—Donald Trump certainly wasn’t a fan of them. Biden made it clear in the SOTU speech that his administration will not take the big players in Silicon Valley lightly.
“The time has come for bipartisan legislation to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data about children and teens online, to ban targeted advertising to children, and to impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect about all of us,” Biden said.
The White house statement Expanding on points made in the speech to include a section on strengthening data privacy and platform transparency for all Americans. It requires clear and strict limits on the ability of technology companies to collect, use, transfer and store personal data, especially sensitive information such as geolocation and health information. There is also a need for greater transparency in the algorithms used by companies that “too often discriminate against Americans and sow discord.”
This is not the first time the President has spoken out on this subject. “To keep Americans on their platforms, big tech companies often use users’ personal data to direct them to extreme and polarizing content that is likely to keep them logged in and clicking,” Biden wrote in a Wall Street Journal article earlier in this year. . “Too often, tragic violence has been linked to toxic online echo chambers.”
Biden also called for reform of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which prohibits internet companies from being liable for third-party content hosted on their platforms.
Online child protection was another major topic of SOTU’s presentation. The fact sheet provides evidence that social media and other platforms are harming the mental health, well-being and development of young people. It also mentions “manipulative design methods” that promote addiction and compulsive behavior among children. Moreover, Biden called on bipartisan support for a ban on targeted advertising aimed at children.
“Platforms and other providers of interactive digital services must prioritize the privacy and well-being of young people over profits and revenues when developing their products,” the statement said. Back in 2021, a whistleblower accused Facebook of caring more about its profits than the damage its social media platforms are doing to teens.
Another issue Biden raised was anti-competitive business practices among tech giants. The president is seeking bipartisan support from lawmakers to pass antitrust legislation that would prevent online platforms from giving advantages to their own products. “Capitalism without competition is not capitalism,” he said. “This is exploitation.” Last year, Congress failed to pass a couple of antitrust bills designed to curb the anti-competitive behavior of big tech companies.
As noted Bloombergthe speech marked the first use of the word “antitrust law” in the Union since 1979.