A Big Defeat for Big Tech

NEW YORK – Last year, US President Joe Biden’s administration infuriated lobbyists representing Big Tech firms and others that profit from our personal data by denouncing a proposal that would have gutted domestic data privacy, online civil rights and liberties, and competition safeguards. Now, Biden’s new executive order on Americans’ data security reveals that the lobbyists had good reason to worry.

After decades of data brokers and tech platforms exploiting Americans’ personal data without any oversight or restrictions, the Biden administration has announced that it will ban the transfer of certain kinds of data to China and other countries of concern. It is a small, but important, step toward protecting Americans’ sensitive personal information, in addition to government-related data.

Moreover, the order is likely a precursor to additional policy responses. Americans are rightly worried about what is happening online, and their concerns extend well beyond privacy violations to a host of other digital harms, such as mis- and disinformation, social media-induced teenage anxiety, and racial incitement.

The firms that make money from our data (including personal medical, financial, and geolocation information) have spent years trying to equate “free flows of data” with free speech. They will try to frame any Biden administration public-interest protections as an effort to shut down access to news websites, cripple the internet, and empower authoritarians. That is nonsense.

Tech companies know that if there is an open, democratic debate, consumers’ concerns about digital safeguards will easily trump concerns about their profit margins. Industry lobbyists thus have been busy trying to short-circuit the democratic process. One of their methods is to press for obscure trade provisions aimed at circumscribing what the United States and other countries can do to protect personal data.

Read more here.

A message from Advisor Perspectives and VettaFi: To learn more about this and other topics, check out our podcasts.

© Project Syndicate

More Large Cap Growth Topics >