President Joe Biden has penned an op-ed in the The Wall Street Journal today calling on Democrats and Republicans to “unite against Big Tech.” The piece stops short of naming any specific companies, but Apple is the clear target of Biden’s call for improved competition in the technology industry…
The primary issues addressed by Biden in this op-ed include “how some in the industry collect, share and exploit our most personal data, deepen extremism and polarization in our country, tilt our economy’s playing field, violate the civil rights of women and minorities , and even put our children at risk.”
Biden says that Democrats and Republicans should “come together to pass strong bipartisan legislation to hold Big Tech accountable.” This includes things such as reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
One idea suggested by Biden is a federal framework that outlines how technology companies can use personal data. Notably, this comes after Apple CEO Tim Cook penned a letter to US lawmakers last year, asking them to pass a federal privacy law “as soon as possible.”
First, we need serious federal protections for Americans’ privacy. That means clear limits on how companies can collect, use and share highly personal data—your internet history, your personal communications, your location, and your health, genetic and biometric data. It’s not enough for companies to disclose what data they’re collecting. Much of that data shouldn’t be collected in the first place. These protections should be even stronger for young people, who are especially vulnerable online. We should limit targeted advertising and ban it altogether for children.
Again, Biden does not mention any tech companies by name, but he does address the issue of competition and antitrust. This is an issue clearly in reference to Apple (and others). He writes that the United States needs to “bring more competition back to the tech sector” so that “small and mid-sized businesses, mom-and-pop shops, entrepreneurs” can all compete on a level playing field.
“When tech platforms get big enough, many find ways to promote their own products while excluding or disadvantaging competitors—or charge competitors a fortune to sell on their platform,” Biden writes. “To realize that vision, and to make sure American tech keeps leading the world in cutting-edge innovation, we need fairer rules of the road.”
“The next generation of great American companies should not be smothered by the dominant incumbents before they have a chance to get off the ground,” he continued.
Apple, of course, has come under quite a bit of fire for alleged anticompetitive behavior and broader antitrust concerns. Thus far, the United States has done very little in response to these concerns, unlike regulators in the European Union. The regulations in the EU, however, could ultimately also impact what Apple does in the US.
In the United States, a handful of bipartisan antitrust bills have been proposed, but nothing has gained traction. Apple and Senator Amy Klobuchar have publicly sparred over how these antitrust bills could affect the industry.
You can read President Biden’s full op-ed from the The Wall Street Journal right here.
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