Biden makes bipartisan call to hold Big Tech accountable

US President stresses need to protect children on the internet and provide 'fairer rules' in terms of competition

US President Joe Biden said children are particularly vulnerable online and that targeted advertisements for them should be banned. EPA
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US President Joe Biden called on Democrats and Republicans in Congress to pass bipartisan legislation holding Big Tech accountable, as he says his administration's authority to take such action is limited.

In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Mr Biden said his administration has focused on three principles for Big Tech reform, including privacy protections.

The President said children are particularly vulnerable online and that targeted advertisements for them should be banned.

“We must hold social media companies accountable for the experiment they are running on our children for profit,” he wrote.

Mr Biden also called on Congress to pass legislation that would hold Big Tech companies more accountable for how their algorithms spread content, and for those algorithms to be more transparent.

Doing so, he said, would bar the companies from withholding opportunities from women and minorities, and also block content that could be harmful to children's mental health.

Finally, Mr Biden said more competition needs to be reintroduced in the tech sector to create “fairer rules on the road”.

“For two years, my administration has been hard at work putting these principles into practice, to the extent that existing laws let us,” he wrote.

Addressing problems in Big Tech could be one of the few policies that receives bipartisan support in Congress, with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and Democrats in the Senate.

Republicans have already begun laying the framework for their time in power by requesting documents on Mr Biden's son's business dealings, considering measures on abortion and vowing to investigate “continuing criminal investigations” at the Department of Justice.

“There will be many policy issues we disagree on in the new Congress, but bipartisan proposals to protect our privacy and our children; to prevent discrimination, sexual exploitation, and cyberstalking; and to tackle anticompetitive conduct shouldn’t separate us,” he wrote.

“It’s time to walk the walk and get something done.”

Mr Biden vowed to work closely with Republicans after the party took control of the House during the 2022 midterm elections.

Congress last month banned the use of TikTok on government devices as part of last month's spending bill.

Updated: January 11, 2023, 8:14 PM
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