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Biden urges US Congress to rein in Big Tech

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US President Joe Biden on Wednesday urged Republican and Democratic lawmakers to break years of political gridlock and pass laws that would rein in the power of Big Tech.

The Unites States is home to global tech giants Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook-owner Meta but has trailed governments in Europe and Asia in drawing up more modern rules to curb their power.

"The risks Big Tech poses for ordinary Americans are clear," Biden said in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal just days after the Republican party took the majority in the House of Representatives following elections in November.

"It's time to walk the walk and get something done," he said.

Most of the pushback in the United States against Big Tech has come from state and or national regulators such as the Federal Trade Commission or Department of Justice.

Biden said his administration was seeking to push through legislation against Big Tech on several fronts, including on protection of privacy, and that he supported a ban on targeted advertising for children.

He said a law could give authorities access to the algorithms that power and that legislators should rethink an existing law that absolves tech companies of responsibility for content on their sites.

There is bipartisan support to reform that long-standing provision, known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, but disagreement between political parties on how to proceed.

Biden also insisted on fairer competition where "small and midsized businesses, mom-and-pop shops, entrepreneurs—can compete on a level playing field with the biggest companies."

"The next generation of great American companies shouldn't be smothered by the dominant incumbents before they have a chance to get off the ground," he added.

Such an antitrust law is seen as a longshot, with Republicans reluctant to thwart big business.

Big Tech companies have lobbied hard in recent years to counter any momentum to legislate in Washington.

According to a report in December from Public Citizen, an NGO group, tech giants and their allies spent $277 million on lobbying in the past two years.

© 2023 AFP

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