Two key goals for Biden presidency: driving big tech regulation and ensuring US stays ahead of China in advanced technologies

Following the election of Joe Biden as US president-elect,

David Bicknell, Principal Analyst, Thematic Research at GlobalData, offers his view on the implications of a change in US administration on the technology sector:

Tech regulation will be a key theme of a Joe Biden presidency. When he is inaugurated in January next year, Biden’s four-year term offers a unique opportunity to build on the broader political consensus that something needs to be done to rein in big tech – especially in areas such as antitrust and misinformation.

“The presidential election has shown the world that misinformation is not only bad for us individually but also catastrophic for democracy. The elections and the COVID-19 pandemic have both given this issue more urgency and pushed online platforms to self-regulate in a way that has never been seen before – particularly around political advertising.

“However, these attempts will not appease regulators. We should expect big tech companies to be increasingly targeted and held responsible for what they publish. Internet ecosystems that profit from ad targeting and misinformation will be particularly hit. The recently announced Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit against Google is a watershed moment for Big Tech regulation. It shows an unprecedented consensus on both sides of the Atlantic in favour of tackling data monopolies.

“Break-up arguments against big tech have been popular on the campaign trail, especially among Democrats, but regulators will favour less drastic options and intervene to address the unfair control of data. Forcing companies to open up their data will be seen as a more useful remedy to ensure that new entrants compete for business on a level playing field.

“On its technology relationship with China, the US needs to take a wider perspective than merely trying to contain China’s ambition. It must ensure that it stays ahead of China in areas such as advanced materials, semiconductors, and artificial intelligence. A Biden administration will need to determine how and at what scale to support these leading-edge industries in the US.”

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