THE NEUTRAL ZONE
President-elect Joe Biden is piecing together a cabinet for when he takes office in 2021, and many are speculating about how his presidency will reshape big tech. Biden’s picks, which include top tech executives and staunch antitrust advocates, currently signal both the possibility of reigning in big tech as well as some placating of its agendas.
The Biden-Harris transition team has listed several executives from big tech companies to fill key roles in government oversight, including Amazon executives Tom Sullivan and Mark Schwartz being assigned positions in the State Department and Office of Management and Budget, respectively, and LinkedIn’s Nicole Isaac, who is listed to join the Treasury Department.
Many progressive groups have banded together to try to convince the Biden administration not to appoint former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, whom many on the left see as a threat to their efforts to curb the growing economic power of big tech. Sandeep Vaheesan, the Legal Director of Open Markets Institute, accused Schmidt of organizing “an employer cartel with other tech titans, including the late Steve Jobs, that held down the wages of thousands of software engineers and other professionals in Silicon Valley.”
Biden also added Bill Baer to his transition team for the Federal Trade Commission. Baer has been a staunch supporter of increased antitrust enforcement by the U.S. government. “We should care too about under enforcement because it’s led to growing concentration in many markets, think agriculture, telecom, wireless, travel, pharma and beer,” Baer said.
The President-elect is also likely to continue President Trump’s hard-line approach to Chinese tech, particularly bans on Huawei and ZTE, adding that the U.S. must do so by creating a “united front” with allies. “The United States does need to get tough with China. If China has its way, it will keep robbing the United States and American companies of their technology and intellectual property,” Biden wrote in March. Silicon Valley, as well as tech companies in Asia, are hoping that a Biden administration will reverse Trump-era policies that have restricted immigration for foreign tech workers.
Who will have a seat at the table? – Vox – 11/17/2020
Lobbyists and activists alike are researching names who they might want to push on Capitol Hill or disparage in the press. People in the Bay Area who raised money for Biden are being overwhelmed with requests to pass along resumes to his inner circle. And Biden’s team is encouraging experts who served on Biden’s tech advisory committee to apply for positions in the administration.
Zuckerberg and Dorsey to be quizzed by Senate following Biden vote victory – BBC News – 11/16/2020
Last week, one of Mr Biden’s senior advisers attacked Facebook over its handling of conspiracy theories and calls to violence in the days following the US election. “Our democracy is on the line. We need answers,” tweeted Bill Russo, who is deputy press secretary to the US president-elect. Joe Biden has said previously that he would repeal Section 230 – the law that protects social media companies from being sued for the things people post.
Joe Biden’s Approach to Chinese Tech Will Focus on US Business Interests – Adweek – 11/16/2020
Another point of difference will be how Biden treats foreign relations. Since the Trump administration has isolated the U.S. from some traditional allies, experts told Adweek they expect more coalition building in combating Chinese tech when Biden takes over. “The Biden campaign has often stressed the importance of repairing relations with allies. That most likely implies removing the EU tariffs,” Zhong said. “But I’d be looking out for how the alliance building plays out when it comes to the security threats from Chinese tech.”
Big Tech lobbying Joe Biden to end Trump’s immigration rules – New York Post – 11/16/2020
The top firms in Silicon Valley sued the Trump administration, seeking to overturn his executive orders restricting immigration for foreign workers and requiring them to be paid at rates closer to domestic workers’ salaries. They’re now telling President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team that rescinding Trump’s actions is the industry’s top priority next year.