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The president attempted to rally bipartisan support to finally resolve a number of long-standing privacy, safety, and competition issues facing the tech industry. Over the more than hourlong address, Biden called on Congress to pass new rules protecting user data privacy and boosting competition in the tech industry.
“Pass bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement”
“Pass bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement and prevent big online platforms from giving their own products an unfair advantage,” Biden said. “It’s time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect on all of us.”
The address echoed much of what Biden said during his first State of the Union address last year. Child online safety has long troubled Congress and the Biden administration, reaching dramatic highs in 2021 after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal company documents detailing the mental health risks young users face when using Meta platforms like Instagram. Haugen attended the president’s last address as a guest of First Lady Jill Biden, a testament to the administration’s desire for stricter online protections.
But over the last two years, little has been done to improve the safety of young users on social media in the US. Lawmakers have introduced dozens of bills, but none have garnered enough support to force a floor vote in either the House or Senate. Many of these bills, like Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) measure to update a standing online child safety law, do much of what Biden asked for Tuesday, like banning platforms like Instagram and YouTube from targeting ads to minors.
Biden touted his administration’s work to bolster US competitiveness against China, leveraging the primetime spot to tout the $52 billion CHIPS and Science Act that included $52 billion in funding to boost US semiconductor manufacturing. Despite the speech’s focus on China, Biden did not comment on whether his administration would ban TikTok.
“I will make no apologies that we are investing to make America strong,” Biden said. “Investing in American innovation, in industries that will define the future, and that China’s government is intent on dominating.”