President Joe Biden called for big-tech reform in an opinion piece Wednesday, advocating for a change to Section 230 and creating more competition in the space.
In the op-ed, published in the Wall Street Journal, Biden said his administration has three principles to reign in Big Tech: creating federal privacy protections, reforming Section 230, and tackling anticompetitive tech companies
“For two years, my administration has been hard at work putting these principles into practice, to the extent that existing laws let us,” Biden said. “My administration is developing new privacy rules for commercial data. We are fighting algorithmic discrimination against protected groups and have released a straightforward set of best practices for government and industry.”
But, Biden said, his power has its limits. Biden called for Congress to implement bipartisan reforms to “hold Big Tech accountable.”
Reform of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has been a bipartisan topic for the past several years, embraced by everyone from Biden to former President Donald Trump. Section 230 shields tech companies from blame for hateful or malicious content posted on their platforms, but some advocates have been trying to reform 230 for years. In October, the Supreme Court agreed to take on a case challenging the immunity of platforms, and reforming or abolishing 230 is on the agenda for House Republican after they won back control in the midterms in November.
Biden has called for Section 230 reform for some time. He revoked Trump-era 230 restrictions during the early days of his administration but called for reforms to the law and met with tech leaders in September
In the op-ed, Biden called out the algorithms that social media and tech companies use to deliver content. Biden said Section 230 reform was needed to gain “transparency about the algorithms Big Tech is using” highlighting that although platforms claim to be neutral, they have vast systems that decide who and what you see online.
Biden also advocated for protections surrounding the data tech companies collect, specifically from children.
“As I said last year in my State of the Union address, millions of young people are struggling with bullying, violence, trauma and mental health. We must hold social-media companies accountable for the experiment they are running on our children for profit,” Biden said.
The president did not specify what social media companies would be held accountable for or what accountability would look like. While Biden’s proposals lacked specifics or any direction, he encouraged Congress to come together and fight big tech together.
“Let’s unite behind our shared values and show the nation we can work together to get the job done,” he said.
*First Published: Jan 12, 2023, 8:06 am CST
Jacob Seitz is a freelance journalist originally from Columbus, Ohio, interested in the intersection of culture and politics.