What Tech Policies Should We Expect from the Biden Administration?
As the drama of the Trump administration lame duck period fades and the impressive number of troops stationed at our nation’s capitol shuffle back to their respective states, the Biden administration is up and running for its first 100 days in office. The old D.C. fixture started with a bang, issuing some 15 executive orders on his first day—a new record.
With this newfound energy to hit the ground running, we can already see a few trends to expect in technology policy over the next four years. From platform policy to cryptocurrency, here are a few things to look out for as the new administration begins to shape its approach to technology and innovation in America.
Big Tech has several seats at the table
Many on the Left had hoped that the Biden administration would be an ally in its efforts to overturn the consumer welfare standard that guides antitrust proceedings in the US and take a tougher stance against Silicon Valley, which paradoxically is a stronghold of Democrat support. But if the Biden administration’s transition team and rumored political appointees are any indication, we shouldn’t expect Google to get broken up any time soon.
Roughly a dozen former employees from companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google held key advisor and counsel roles in the Biden transition team. This tendency may extend to government personnel, too. For instance, antitrust hawks have been dismayed that the shortlist of likely antitrust enforcers includes corporate attorneys that have helped banks and tech firms navigate antitrust cases in the past.
This is not to say that Big Tech won’t see any new regulation. We may see federal privacy legislation and beefed-up government content moderation controls spring forth under the new administration. Even if companies complain, these policies would have the effect of shoring up incumbents’ market positions at the expense of competitors since upstarts don’t have as many resources for compliance. And the big guys might not even grumble. Most Silicon Valley companies have voiced support for a federal privacy law, whether to generate good press or to undercut California’s more quixotic foray into data privacy controls.
It’s not surprising that Joe Biden would continue the trend of Silicon Valley chumminess that first blossomed under the reign of his old boss, President Barack Obama. But the more progressive wing of the Democrat party may get their fair share of tech antagonists appointed as well. We’ll probably see a lot of back-and-forth as the new administration attempts to appease both its corporate allies and more anti-capitalist ideological base.
We may end up with a situation that is the worst of both worlds: Big Tech animus will be exploited to justify changes to antitrust and data policies that make the overall economy less productive and competitive while largely sparing the big companies that have managed to hold the president’s ear.
The net neutrality battle is back
Speaking of Silicon Valley, we can expect some of their desires to be reflected in telecom policy at the Federal Communications Commiss
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