In Silicon Valley, Tech Giants Prepare For Biden Presidency
Silicon Valley has hailed Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election, but expects to face mistrust from politicians of all stripes, who are concerned about the omnipotence of tech giants. ” Big Tech knows that Republicans and Democrats alike have grievances against the way the industry acts and is preparing for more supervision and regulation ”, says Darrell West, a researcher at the Center for Technological Innovation at the Brookings Institution. Antitrust, content moderation, immigration policy: review of the major topics that Google, Apple, Facebook and others are preparing for under the Biden administration.
The actions of the American authorities against the GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) for abuse of dominant position will continue after the assumption of office of Joe Biden on January 20. The complaint by the government and several American states filed in October against Google for illegal monopoly pursuit of online search and advertising is expected to last for years. Apple, Facebook and Amazon, already subject to multiple legal proceedings, could also be targeted. The far left wing of the Democratic Party would like to dismantle these groups. But for Daniel Ives of Wedbush Securities, “As Republicans are likely to retain control of the Senate, investors rule out the possibility that major changes to antitrust laws will be passed. “
The direction these lawsuits take will also depend on the identity of the Minister of Justice and the boss of the consumer protection agency (the FTC), two positions that Joe Biden will have to renew. Relations between the White House and the Internet giants, however, should be less tumultuous than under Trump as evidenced by the eagerness of many tech pundits (Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Sheryl Sandberg, etc.) to congratulate Joe Biden. after his victory. The vice-president elect Kamala Harris, senator of California, maintains close ties with the industry. His brother-in-law and former chief of staff, Tony West, is Uber’s chief legal officer.
The moderation of publications on social networks and major internet platforms should continue to fuel political debates, with section 230 of the “Communications Decency Act” in focus. This law, vilified on the left and on the right, prevents legal proceedings related to content published by third parties. Democrats believe it exonerates sites from their responsibilities, while Republicans complain of violations of freedom of expression. Joe Biden said he wanted to “revoke” Section 230, but did not give further details.
Pour Robert Atkinson, Chairman of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation think tank, these words “Are more campaign statements than anything else” and immediate repeal of the law is unlikely. The Biden administration should also vote in favor of the principle of equal treatment and access to online content, says ” net neutrality ”, opposed by Mr. Trump. Another subject on the agenda: the protection of privacy on the Internet, one of the main bones of contention between Washington and Silicon Valley. Mr. Atkinson is considering stricter legislation against Gafa, based on texts in force in the European Union but likely to be blocked in the Senate.
Joe Biden could come back to the policy of “decoupling” the economy of the United States and China, initiated by Donald Trump against the backdrop of the Sino-American trade conflict. The new president could also give another twist to the technological war that is raging between the two countries and has led to the restriction of activities on American soil of Chinese companies like the telecoms group Huawei or ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok. .
The American tech pillars, whose supply chain depends heavily on China, are hoping for a change of direction. “Wall Street seems to think a Biden presidency will adopt a somewhat friendlier tone with China on technological and political disputes”says Daniel Ives, who believes, however, that issues as crucial as data piracy and intellectual property protection will remain in the spotlight.
The new administration has plans to overturn Mr. Trump’s decrees restricting visas for foreign graduate employees, whose skills are valued by large American technology groups. “Tech companies will appreciate Mr. Biden’s fairer immigration measures, which will allow highly skilled workers to enter the United States because it is essential to their business.”, says West. Mr. Biden will have to be careful, however, ” not to give the impression that these measures are harming American employment ”, warns Patrick Moorhead at Moor Insights & Strategy.