Understanding the Biden Administration's Technology Policy Platform

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On Sept. 8, the White House hosted a session on Tech Platform Accountability so government officials could hear first-hand about the harm caused by online services. Following the convocation, the government announced six principles to guide its technology policy efforts. called “Principles for Enhancing Competition and Tech Platform Accountability”They represent six areas in which experts and activists have long highlighted their harm and demanded action, including promoting competition in the tech sector. Provides strong federal protections for Americans’ privacy. Stronger privacy and online protection for children. Remove legal protections for large technology platforms. Increase transparency about platform algorithms and content moderation decisions. Stop making decisions with discriminatory algorithms. The following week, at the White House United We Stand Summit Against Hate-Fed Violence, President Joe Biden reiterated two of these principles, stating: All those transparency requirements. “

Most of these principles represent currently established consensus on key issues of technical platform accountability. Similarly, these principles reflect bills passed by various committees by the 117th Congress, but not yet enacted into law, including technology antitrust, online privacy, and children’s privacy and safety. . These are a welcome final piece of the tech agenda that the Biden administration has been putting together over the past two years. Technology policy is perceived not as a single issue but as one that spans national and international priorities, portfolios and institutions.

Many of these principles reflect the vision of effective technology regulation laid out by the CAP in its extensive 2021 report How to Regulate Technology: A Technology Policy Framework for Online Services. The report builds on the recommendations of a comprehensive study of harm from online services and outlines several necessary initiatives, including new competition policy and antitrust enforcement. Privacy Regulation; Transparency; Algorithmic Discrimination;

So far, the Biden administration’s technology policy has focused on critical technology fundamentals such as connectivity, cybersecurity, civil rights, and domestic and international competition policy. As a result, we have made significant progress:

The Principles, announced this month, are a forward-looking and robust first phase to address the immense challenges of sustaining competition, enhancing consumer protection, and addressing the threats and harms inherent in technology platforms. represents a missing piece in the technology policy agenda of The September session at the White House will address the issue of tech platform accountability at the highest levels of the Biden White House, including the White House’s most senior economic, domestic policy, science and technology, and national security leaders. It shows that you are getting attention. And that focus is now being clarified with these new principles. CAP hopes that this session is just the beginning of an intensified White House effort to advance the principles of a clear technology platform.

There is still time for the White House, working with the 117th Congress, to enact some of the key principles to increase competition and tech platform accountability. There is a pending bipartisan technology antitrust law that has cleared the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. A bipartisan privacy bill passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bipartisan children’s privacy and safety bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee. Obstacles remain on all of these bills, but clear leadership from the White House could help withdraw some of them in time to pass the bills by the end of the year. .

For the remainder of 2022, there are a number of White House technology policy priorities that will help us succeed in these goals.

Additionally, the President and the White House must address the growing domestic threat to our elections from peddling lies both offline and online. Public confidence in US elections. “

Beyond the 117th Congress, the issues addressed in the Principles may continue to gain bipartisan support at future Congresses. In early September, Axios reported that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced a “Commitment to America” platform that includes technology focused on privacy and data security. did. Target anti-competitive behavior. Keep kids safe online. These commitments overlap with some of the Administration’s principles on privacy, competition, and child safety. Likewise, these issues reflect the bipartisan votes registered thus far. The composition of the 118th Congress is unknown at this time, but these overlaps suggest that these Tech Platform Accountability principles could be advanced next year, regardless of which party controls Congress. increase.

Most notable is the White House’s Fourth Principle.[r]Withdraw special legal protections for large-scale technology platforms” refers to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 has been a technology policy lightning rod for the past few years, and both 2020 presidential candidates support its reform or repeal. As the White House points out, “Presidents have long called for fundamental reform of Section 230.” tried to eliminate. Despite bipartisan interest, this principle is perhaps the most contentious among technology and civil rights experts. This suggests that the likely reaction of large platforms if Section 230 were to be repealed is to restrict users’ speech, doing as much or more harm than protecting freedom of expression. This is because it may affect Yet the bipartisan interest here is striking, and even the aforementioned White House framework reflects a reported House Republican pledge to “destroy Section 230 for the biggest tech companies.” It’s for

Finally, while the Administration has strong principles on tech platform accountability, these are inherently issues of authority and impartiality across the White House and many federal agencies. It would be useful for the President to clarify who should be responsible for further implementing these principles.

As noted in the CAP’s 2021 report, competition, privacy and transparency are necessary to lay the foundation for stronger and more robust future technology policies that can tackle the problem of algorithmic amplification. This is an important item. Challenges of online infrastructure. Necessity of making rules in advance. Increased technology expertise. These principles and other accomplishments set the stage for President Biden’s powerful bipartisan technology agenda in his first term.