How a Biden Administration Would Tackle Tech Policy

How a Biden Administration Would Tackle Tech Policy

Joe Biden’s position to win the US presidency has grown in strength during “election week”. As we await final results from five battlefield states, here’s an introduction to what to expect from the most debated technology policy issues in Washington, should Biden win.

Technical antitrust law: pressure to do something

Industry watchers have told us they don’t expect a changing of the guard to turn the Justice Department’s Google lawsuit, in coordination with eleven attorneys-general, about the company’s search advertising hegemony. Indeed, during a Biden presidency, we have seen a spate of antitrust activity affecting big tech.

There was a lot of antitrust news from Big Tech in October. First, the House Judiciary Committee’s Democrat-led Antitrust Subcommittee released a damn report accusing Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google of abusing their monopoly power. This move preceded the long-awaited DOJ lawsuit against Google.

“There is enormous political pressure from all sides to do something against antitrust law,” said Berin Szóka, senior fellow and founder of the libertarian think tank TechFreedom. “But don’t assume that the legislation will be anywhere near as radical as the Democrats suggested.” For example, Szóka said he believed a Biden government would likely not turn the burden of proof in merger cases; The standard rule that companies must demonstrate that their business is competitive remains in place. Instead, a Biden DOJ would likely focus on making sure the department is better funded to maintain a more aggressive enforcement regime while making “carefully targeted legislative changes” to antitrust law.

“Regardless of who wins the presidential election, antitrust enforcement against big tech continues,” said Sally Hubbard, director of enforcement strategy at the liberal think tank Open Markets Institute. “If anti-monopoly candidates from both parties get seats in Congress, the likelihood of robust legislative reforms, as proposed in the Big Tech report of the House Antitrust Subcommittee of the House of Representatives, increases.”

§ 230 Hold Social Media Companies Accountable

If you’ve read about technology policy in 2020, you’ve heard a great deal about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The legislation gives internet companies that host user-generated content some form of liability protection (think Facebook and Twitter, but also the New York Times’ comment system). After Twitter tagged its tweets with fact-checking labels, President Donald Trump signed an executive order reviewing the social media company’s authority to interpret the law that the Commission is currently considering.

Biden has also called for the current Section 230 protection to be lifted. Zhanna Malekos Smith, senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the industry should expect a Biden government to push for new laws to “hold social media companies accountable for knowingly using their platforms.” Spreading falsehoods. “

Shane Tews, a visiting scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who also chairs TechFreedom’s board of directors, said there is much talk of 230 – including in recent Congressional hearings – but not many plausible solutions on the table. “There are a lot of people yelling at each other,” she said.

Net neutrality: resurrection

In 2017, the Republican-controlled FCC abolished the protection of net neutrality in the Obama era, which, among other things, prevented Internet service providers from charging users or companies fees for better service. It is likely that a new FCC under Biden would reintroduce these rules.

TechFreedom’s Szóka said that “even a centrist FCC chairman would face overwhelming activist pressures to revive the net neutrality rules.” Still, he wonders if a Biden government would push for law reform. Democratic chairman [Julius] Genachowski pushed hard for legislation, ”Szóka said, noting that the commission’s rules were a replacement election after Republicans pulled out of the legislative talks.

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