President Joe Biden called on members of Congress Wednesday to set aside partisan differences and pass groundbreaking legislation to rein in Big Tech, focusing on digital privacy, antitrust and the industry’s liability shield, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Biden said that despite making some progress on increasing tech industry oversight, the US government has run up against the limits of its statutory authority.
“We need bipartisan action from Congress to hold Big Tech accountable,” Biden wrote. “We’ve heard a lot of talk about creating committees. It’s time to walk the walk and get something done.”
Biden urged lawmakers to “limit targeted advertising and ban it altogether for children,” a proposal linked to a key bipartisan privacy bill unveiled in the last Congress. He reiterated his longstanding calls to amend Section 230 in ways that would expose tech platforms to more lawsuits over content moderation, and advocated for rules forcing them to be more transparent about how their algorithms work.
And he said Congress should implement “fairer rules of the road” to prevent new businesses from being “smothered by the dominant incumbents before they have a chance to get off the ground.”
Tech policy analysts have said that with Congress entering a new phase of divided partisan control, the prospect of bipartisan tech legislation may have dimmed, particularly on antitrust issues.
Calls to revise Section 230 are bipartisan, but Republicans and Democrats have not been able to agree on why the law needs changing, much less on how. Democrats have said tech companies should face more liability for failing to remove enough problematic content; Republicans argue tech platforms should face more liability for removing too much.
Some policy experts have said that efforts to craft bipartisan privacy legislation have the strongest odds of passage in the new Congress, but it remains a long way from becoming law.