Biden finalized his plan to rein in Big Tech. Big Tech wasn’t invited.
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President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday released a checklist of measures to rein in Big Tech after a roundtable “listening session” on the tech industry’s woes.
But regulators did not “listen” to the companies that are the target of many of the sought-after actions — Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc.
and Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc.
The only tech industry representatives present were the CEOs of Mozilla Corp. and Sonos Inc.
“The rise of technology platforms has brought with it new and difficult challenges, from tragic acts of violence related to toxic online cultures, to the deterioration of mental health and well-being, to the basic rights of Americans and communities worldwide affected by the rise of technology platforms. and small,” the White House said in a statement after convening 16 experts, most has administration employees, to discuss technology.
None of the Big Tech companies responded to a request for comment at the listening session, but people familiar with the thinking of the two companies weren’t entirely surprised. They noted the administration’s increased efforts to hold social media companies and major digital platform vendors more accountable as the chances of a Senate vote seem to dwindle by the hour.
Read more: As Congress grapples with Big Tech regulation, the FTC isn’t waiting
However, industry analysts expressed disappointment at the exclusive, private meeting, which recommended sanctions against the industry’s biggest players without offering a seat at the table. The most controversial reform on the administration’s list called for “removing special protections from major technology platforms,” including amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The section generally provides protection of website platforms from third-party content.
“Section 230 provides critical protections for platforms of all sizes to moderate content and remove harmful messages, and our research confirms that these protections are most important for smaller sites,” said Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich. The trade group is financed by Amazon, Meta, Google, Apple, Twitter Inc.
Uber Technologies Inc.
The six broad goals listed by the White House reflect legislation slowly moving through Congress, the latest sign of the White House’s growing crackdown on high-tech influence as the legislation languishes in the Senate and House. According to reports in The Wall Street Journal, Politico and elsewhere, the Justice Department is expected to file antitrust lawsuits against Google over its online advertising business and against Apple over its dominant App Store in the coming weeks.
Social media platforms—especially Meta, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube—have been identified as the scourge of politicians who play on popular opinion to control digital data collectors like Meta and Amazon. The two companies are the main targets of the Federal Trade Commission.
Congressional inaction was on display earlier this week when a flustered Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who has authored a bill to curb the landlord power of powerful digital platforms like Apple and Facebook, claimed that an “incredible onslaught of money” had been an obstacle to passing the law.
“What has slowed us down is the incredible onslaught of money, and that’s what happens with monopolies,” Klobuchar, author of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, said Tuesday at the Code Conference in Los Angeles. “The senators are talking about that, the ads that appear in each state.”
Opinion: Democrats promised to rein in Big Tech. They have failed.
Organizations funded by the tech industry have spent more than $200 million on political ads and other lobbying efforts since the start of 2021, according to ad tracking service AdImpact and others.
Klobuchar, who has written a book on antitrust reform and chaired Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on anticompetitive business practices for more than a year, has been vehemently calling for a full Senate vote on his landmark bill as time melts away from the current legislation. session. [The White House said Thursday it was encouraged to see bipartisan interest in Congress to adopt antitrust legislation to address the power of major U.S. tech companies.]
But with none of the major companies present, reporters pressed White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre For the participation of Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker and Sonos CEO Patrick Spence to represent the views of the tech industry.
Sonos and Google have been locked in a series of lawsuits against each other over speaker technology since 2020. Sonos called the two lawsuits filed by Google last month “intimidation tactics” to “retaliate against Sonos for speaking out against Google’s monopolistic royalty payments.” .
See also: Sonos stock rockets as patent win over Google could mean potential financial gains
The nonprofit Mozilla, whose Firefox browser competes with the likes of Google, has repeatedly clashed with Big Tech. On Friday, the company’s chief security officer, Marshall Erwin, urged federal regulators to crack down on Internet giants and browser makers that fail to protect user privacy.
“Privacy online is a mess, consumers are caught in this vicious cycle where their data is collected, often without their knowledge, and then used to manipulate,” Erwin said at the FTC’s forum on commercial surveillance and data security.
“We’re seeing a roundtable today, it’s again the biggest roundtable we’ve seen in this administration on technology,” Jean-Pierre said. “What you should take away from this day, or take away from this day, is that the president is going to, and has been calling for fundamental legislative reforms for a long time to address the real problems. And so we’re going to continue to do that.”
The difficult answer came a day before Biden met in Ohio with Intel Corp.
CEO Pat Gelsinger at a groundbreaking ceremony for Intel’s new $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility, a week after Congress passed the $280 billion Chip and Science Act in July.
“The future of the chip industry will be made in America,” Biden said at the event, the White House’s interim bid to seek new funding for manufacturing and infrastructure. “The industrial Midwest is back.”
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