This story is a part of, CNET’s protection of the run-up to voting in November.
Joe Biden has gained the race for the presidency, unseating Donald Trump to take the White Home. Biden, Barack Obama’s vice chairman, made historical past together with his choose of Sen. Kamala Harris as his No. 2; Harris will grow to be the primary lady, and the primary lady of shade, to carry the workplace of vice chairman.
A number of information shops known as the election on Saturday after projecting Biden would win Pennsylvania, giving him greater than the 270 electoral votes wanted. Vote counts took longer than in most years as a result of states have been deluged with mail-in ballots solid in report numbers by folks keep away from polling stations amid. Media shops calling the race for Biden included CNN, Fox, The New York Instances and The Wall Road Journal, in addition to ABC, CBS and NBC. Trump has mentioned he’ll problem the outcomes.
Biden tweeted Saturday that he was “honored” to have gained. “I promise you this,” he mentioned, “I will probably be a President for all Individuals — whether or not you voted for me or not.” Biden additionally modified his Twitter bio to learn “President-Elect,” and Harris, who additionally tweeted, modified hers to learn “Vice President-Elect.”
Although know-how points, together with web neutrality, rural broadband and on-line privateness, have been scorching matters within the major season, the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout have dominated the political dialogue over the previous a number of months.
Nonetheless battle strains have been drawn over how you can rein in huge tech corporations. Because the affect and dimension of corporations like Google, Twitter and Fb have grown, lawmakers have questioned whether or not extra regulation and reforms to antitrust regulation are wanted. Democrats are troubled by the rampant circulation of hate speech and disinformation, together with interference by international international locations within the 2020 US presidential election. Republicans, led by Trump, allege their speech is being censored by social media websites. The businesses strongly deny the declare.
Each side say these corporations have grown too huge.
In fact, essentially the most instant subject President-elect Biden faces is the COVID-19 disaster, which has led to a fast adoption of telemedicine and digital training. The pandemic has additionally highlighted the digital divide that stops hundreds of thousands of Individuals from accessing high-speed web.
Though tech coverage did not dominate election points, Biden’s presence within the Oval Workplace over the following 4 years can have a significant affect on the sector, together with infrastructure coverage on broadband deployment and nationwide safety points involving China. The president and his staff will even play a task in how you can deal with the expansion and affect of social media giants. Fb, Twitter and different tech corporations are already feeling the warmth from politicians on either side of the political aisles.
Throughout congressional hearings in July, Fb’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Prepare dinner and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai have been grilled about allegedly monopolistic practices. Zuckerberg, Pichai and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey have been again on Capitol Hill in October dealing with robust questions from Democrats and Republicans over a key web regulation that is helped their companies flourish.
To date, Biden has remained comparatively quiet on tech. Harris, who hails from California, will seemingly be seen by the trade as extra a buddy than a foe due to her ties to Silicon Valley. Nevertheless it’s onerous to think about Massive Tech would get pleasure from the identical type of cozy relationship it had throughout the Obama administration.
Here is a have a look at the place Biden stands on the problems.
The largest subject dealing with tech corporations beneath President Biden will probably be reforms to antitrust regulation meant to rein within the greatest tech corporations.
A scathing 449-page congressional report detailing abuses of market energy by Google, Apple, Amazon and Fb seemingly foreshadows troubles forward for tech companies beneath a Biden administration and a Democrat-controlled Congress. The report put collectively by a panel from the Home Judiciary Committee laid out a highway map for Congress to place the brakes on the dominance of the nation’s 4 largest tech corporations.
In the meantime, the US Division of Justice beneath President Trump filed a landmark lawsuit final month in opposition to Google, accusing the tech big of illegally holding monopolies in search and search promoting. The go well with was the fruits of a greater than yearlong investigation into alleged anticompetitive practices on the firm and the primary such antitrust case within the tech world in a long time.
It is unclear how far a Biden Justice Division will probably be keen to go when it comes to antitrust enforcement and reforms. Whereas Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Biden has mentioned it is too early to speak about breaking apart corporations and as a substitute has leaned towards regulation as a approach to curb their energy.
Nonetheless, it is clear that the US authorities has put huge tech beneath extra intense scrutiny as attitudes towards Silicon Valley corporations have modified dramatically from just some years in the past, when Google and Fb have been hailed as American success tales. Now, that dominance has turned in opposition to these corporations.
Liability protections: Section 230
There isn’t much that Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill agree on. Reforming Section 230, a decades old law, is on that short list. The law protects Google, Facebook, Twitter and other tech giants from lawsuits over the content their users post on their platforms.
Last month, Zuckerberg, Pichai and Dorsey appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee to discuss the law, although much of the talk focused on lawmaker complaints rather than substantive reforms. Biden has been an outspoken critic of Section 230, which is part of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
More on the election:
Democrats, like Biden, say Facebook and other companies are getting off too easy when bad actors use their platforms to disseminate disinformation and hate speech, as well as interfere in elections.
Biden told The New York Times that Section 230 “immediately should be revoked” for Facebook and other platforms. “It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false, and we should be setting standards not unlike the Europeans are doing relative to privacy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Republicans accuse social media giants of censoring conservatives online. In the weeks leading up to the election, Trump tweeted “REPEAL SECTION 230!!!” after Facebook and Twitter slowed the spread of a New York Post story that contained unverified claims concerning Biden’s son.
All of this comes as the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission considers writing new regulations for Section 230 that would penalize companies for censoring content. A Biden Administration is likely to put the kibosh on the FCC’s efforts to write rules to police social media companies. Instead, he’s likely to look to Congress for answers.
Unlike some of the other Democrats who ran for president in 2020, Biden hasn’t said much about net neutrality. Bernie Sanders and Warren, by contrast, expressed early on in their candidacies strong support for the principle.
Still, it’s likely that net neutrality will come back en vogue under Biden.
A spokesman for Biden’s campaign said the president-elect is a supporter of strong net neutrality protections.
“As Barack Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden was proud to push for net neutrality and see the [Federal Communications Commission] take direct motion to maintain the web open and free for all Individuals,” the spokesman mentioned in an announcement. Biden, he mentioned, was outraged at seeing the Open Web Rule reversed beneath the Trump administration.
However Biden’s observe report tells a distinct story. When he was a senator, he did not co-sponsor or assist web neutrality laws, together with the 2007 Web Freedom Preservation Act. Different outstanding Democrats, together with then-Sens. Obama and Hillary Clinton, have been co-sponsors of that laws, as was Sanders.
Biden additionally has an in depth relationship with Comcast executives, who’ve lobbied in opposition to strict web neutrality rules. Comcast Senior Vice President David Cohen hosted Biden’s first fundraiser after he introduced his bid for president.
“Biden’s report on web neutrality is regarding, to say the least,” mentioned Evan Greer, deputy director for the grassroots group Struggle for the Future. “Firms like Comcast and Verizon have contributed huge quantities of cash to each Democrats and Republicans through the years.”
However these ties aren’t concrete proof of Biden’s stance. It is value noting that Obama additionally held fundraisers with Comcast earlier than ultimately calling, in a YouTube video, for stricter regulation of broadband beneath Title II of the Communications Act. These stricter rules handled broadband like a public utility, such because the old-style phone community.
The political panorama has modified on web neutrality since Biden served within the Senate. Internet neutrality beneath Title II is strongly supported each by Senate Minority Chief Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the Home Nancy Pelosi, which signifies that going in opposition to sturdy protections would seemingly defy a core precept of the occasion’s present platform.
Throughout his marketing campaign, Biden known as rebuilding the center class in America “the ethical obligation of our time.” He sees revitalizing rural America as a cornerstone of that effort. A giant a part of his rural financial improvement technique is investing $20 billion in getting broadband entry to communities that do not have it. He is additionally known as for partnering with municipal utilities to carry fiber broadband connections to communities throughout rural America.
“Excessive-speed broadband is important within the twenty first century economic system,” Biden’s rural coverage reads. “At a time when so many roles and companies could possibly be situated wherever, high-speed web entry must be an amazing financial equalizer for rural America, not one other financial drawback.”
The COVID-19 disaster highlights the gaps in protection. And Biden’s marketing campaign mentioned that the $20 billion in broadband infrastructure funding is supposed to assist shut these gaps.
“As we face the financial impacts of this international pandemic for months to return, it’s vital we bridge this divide and construct a digital infrastructure that’s out there to all,” the marketing campaign mentioned in an announcement concerning this coverage.
The digital divide is a matter Republicans acknowledge as nicely. The White Home has labored with the FCC on the Rural Digital Alternative program, which reallocates $20.4 billion in funding to subsidize broadband infrastructure in underserved areas. Trump has additionally included high-speed web entry as a part of a $2 trillion infrastructure plan.
China and tariffs
Democrats throughout the board have been important of Trump’s tariff struggle with China, which has affected imports on a variety of tech merchandise. Tariffs are taxes paid by importers on items arriving from international international locations, and Trump has used them to strain the Chinese language authorities on broader commerce points. Two rounds of tariffs, together with a 15% tariff on merchandise like telephones, laptops and tablets, have gone into impact. One other spherical was prevented in a “phase one” commerce deal.
On the marketing campaign path, Democratic candidates, together with Biden and Harris, have been mild on specifics as to how they’d take care of China. However Biden has made it clear he believes Trump’s negotiations have damage Individuals. He says the US wants “new guidelines” and “new processes” to dictate commerce relationships with international international locations.
Biden did not say a lot about information privateness on the marketing campaign path. Throughout his years as a US senator and as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, nevertheless, he launched and co-sponsored a number of items of laws to make it simpler for the FBI and regulation enforcement to observe communications, together with the Communications Help for Legislation Enforcement Act, which permits regulation enforcement to surveil communications over the web, together with voice over IP calls and different web site visitors.
Correction, Nov. 7: An earlier model of this story mischaracterized Harris’ firsts. She’ll grow to be the primary lady, and the primary lady of shade, to carry the workplace of vice chairman.