Big Tech makes inroads into Biden Campaign
Joe Biden has been very critical of Big Tech and has admonished Facebook in the recent past for mishandling misinformation and saying big internet companies should lose central legal protection, but surprisingly his campaign has silently welcomed onto its staff and policy groups people who have worked with/ for silicon valley giants, which have raised concerns among critics of the industry and the companies are seeking to opt for a potential Biden administration.
One of Biden's closest aides had joined the campaign from Apple, while the others had held senior roles at firms that have consulted for tech giants. A nearly 700 member volunteer group, advising the campaign, the innovation policy committee, includes 8 people who work for corporate giants like Facebook, Amazon and Google. Others in the committee include economists and lawyers who have worked with the aforementioned companies or in think tanks sponsored by them.
The group's members include prominent liberals who have in the past argued for stricter regulation of tech companies, but the presence of these industry members in Biden's policy committee and transition teams and his campaigns constant efforts to ensure his campaign stays confidential especially along the lines of policymaking has definitely alarmed liberals who say that tech titans stifle competition, disregard privacy of their users and fail to adequately curb hate speech and fake news on their respective sites.
They hope to dissuade Biden, who has not particularly made tech a big part of his campaign, taking example from ex-president Obama, whose warm embrace turned the companies into the darlings of Washington. Today these giants are fending off new regulations and antitrust lawsuits. The justice department and the federal trade commission have spent over a year investigating these giants for possible violations of competition law. In a house hearing last month, representatives from both parties grilled the CEOs of the 4 biggest tech giants in America about the accusations of their dominance having hurt rivals, small businessmen and consumer injuries, as well as their measures regarding the policing the spread of misinformation.
As said by Robert Atkinson, the president of a think tank which has been funded in part by Google,” The environment is very different now when Obama took office, you know, the tech was like a bromance kind of thing. Everybody loved it, and people didn’t see the issues that some people see now.”
Biden campaign spokesman Matt Hill has said that Biden would not take it easy on Big Tech, “Many technology giants and their executives have not only abused their power but misled the American people, damaged our democracy and evaded any form of responsibility, anyone who thinks that campaign volunteers or advisers will change Joe Biden’s fundamental commitment to stopping the abuse of power and stepping up for the middle class doesn’t know Joe Biden.”
A spokesman for google has stated that the employees are working in their personal capacity with the campaign and not as representatives of their company. Apple has said the same regarding its employees, Facebook declined to comment on the committee but has pointed to the policy that allows employees to engage in political activities on their personal time. Amazon declined to comment.
A list of rules was given to the policy members and some of the rules may raise concerns, notable examples are, “simply put, do not talk to the press” and also tells members to not disclose their political activities on any of their social media.
Diana L. Moss, member of the antitrust subgroup of the innovation policy committee, and president of the AAI, whose think tanks are sponsored by Amazon and Google have said, ”We’re really at the crux of needing some very, very strong leadership on antitrust and competition, and some strengthening of the laws, we’ve had 40 years of lax enforcement and all the damage to prove it,” stressing that she spoke for herself and not the committee.
Reporter: Jovan H