President Biden’s Tech To-Do Record

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President Biden’s Tech To-Do List

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President Biden inherits tricky technical questions, including how to curb powerful digital superstars, what to do with Chinese technology, and how to get more Americans online.

Here is an insight into the opportunities and challenges of technology policy for the new Biden administration:

Restrict technical forces: There have been investigations, lawsuits and loud arguments under the Trump administration over the power of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and other technology companies. Tech giants can expect more of this under Mr. Biden and a Congress tightly controlled by Democrats.

Government lawsuits accusing Google and Facebook of breaking the law in order to succeed or stay that way are being passed on to the new administration, which is expected to continue. There could also be more lawsuits that may make it difficult for Big Tech to continue as it is.

On Tuesday, a top Justice Department attorney appointed by former President Donald Trump approved many Congressional rules that the four largest tech superpowers in America are harmful monopolies. The speech indicated that hatred of big tech is one of the few areas of bipartisan settlement.

Mr Biden appears to agree with the Trump administration's concerns about China's ambitions in technology and other areas, but he has said little more than to seek more consistent and coherent policies. Mr. Biden has also expressed support for more government investment in key US technology to counter China's technical ambitions.

The Biden Administration

Updated

Jan. 20, 2021, 11:34 p.m. ET

Digital divide: The pandemic has exposed a persistent gap between Americans who can and can afford access to internet services and millions who cannot, especially in low-income or rural households.

"Universal broadband" is mentioned in Mr Biden's priorities, but he did not specify how to get there. The Washington Post reported that Mr. Biden's advisors are looking to improve E-Rate, a program designed to help schools and libraries provide Internet access.

What else? Mr Biden's economic recovery plan contains proposals to "make the most ambitious effort ever" to modernize US cyber defense. Maybe this is the year for a federal data protection act? And cracks exist among Democrats regarding the special employment treatment of "gig" workers.

The top priorities for the new administration are ending the pandemic and helping Americans restore the damage. But how the US government deals with these complex technical issues will also have a major impact on Americans and others around the world.

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  • The constant striving to limit the disadvantages of the internet: Discord, the chat app popular with video gamers, has made a number of changes to monitor the website for predators, bullying, and other risks. The Wall Street Journal reviewed Discord's efforts and spoke to people who also want parental controls for the app.

  • China's Most Prominent Tech Manager Appears Again: Jack Ma, who is behind two of China's largest tech companies, has reappeared publicly at an educational event, my colleague Tiffany May reported. Ma had not been seen since late last year when authorities cracked down on his business empire after he passed regulation criticized the government.

  • No peloton allowed in the situation room: Mr. Biden loves his Peloton exercise bike, but it probably needs some modification – leave the camera and microphone behind! – to prevent hackers from possibly snooping on national secrets.

Please enjoy two Scottish Shetland ponies in hand knitted sweaters.

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