Forward-looking: A White House meeting held a broad discussion about Big Tech companies, privacy, discrimination and social media, highlighting the risks posed by the online world and preparing six principles to put a far-reaching reform of the technology sector down in actual law proposals.
Members of Joe Biden's cabinet, tech executives and experts have recently joined a listening session at the White House, in a meeting held to discuss the challenges of "tech platforms" and the possible improvements lawmakers can bring to the current market situation. At the end of the meeting, representatives from the Biden-Harris Administration announced six "core principles" which should inspire future reforms.
According to the official White House write-up, attendees at the meeting included several members of Biden's cabinet, president and CEO of Center for Democracy and Technology Alexandra Reeve Givens, CEO of the Mozilla Corporation Mitchell Baker, and Sonos CEO Patrick Spence. The discussion was focused on the dangers and harms brought by the biggest tech platforms, a growing cause for concern that should be addressed with effective law initiatives and greater accountability.
While the rise of technology platforms and big tech companies has helped people get connected, created a vibrant marketplace of ideas, and opened new product and market opportunities, the White House argues new challenges were introduced as well. Today's technology is also being used to spread "online toxic cultures," which fuel tragic acts of violence, and to violate basic rights of Americans and communities worldwide while mental health and wellbeing are deteriorating.
Another important issue tackled at the White House was the effect of anti-competitive conduct by large platforms on small and mid-size businesses, as well as restrictions on how major products operate and sheer market power can -- and usually do -- influence consumer prices.
Other meeting participants raised alarming concerns about the "rampant" collection of vast troves of personal data, a true digital treasure that social media platforms are using to maximize user engagement by showing tailored and often "sensational, extreme and polarizing" content to keep users' attention and drive profits.
After discussing these pressing topics, the Biden-Harris Administration drafted six "core principles" of what could be a comprehensive reform of the entire tech market in the United States. Worth reading, Techdirt's Mike Masnick takes issue with the six proposed principles, which are as follows:
- Promote competition in the technology sector, with a new set of clean rules designed to ensure small and mid-size businesses and entrepreneurs can compete on a level playing field
- Provide robust federal protections for Americans' privacy, with clear limits on the ability to collect, use, transfer, and maintain American netizens' personal data, including limits on targeted advertising
- Protect kids by putting in place even stronger privacy and online protections for them, prioritizing safety-by-design standards and practices for online platforms, products, and services
- Remove special legal protections for large tech platforms, which would fundamentally change the much discussed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
- Increase transparency about platform's algorithms and content moderation decisions, to shine a light over the notoriously opaque rules dictating how contents are managed and removed on social media
- Stop discriminatory algorithmic decision-making, to ensure algorithms do not discriminate against protected groups through persistent surveillance