Big Tech Makes Inroads With the Biden Campaign
Joe Biden has been critical of Big Tech, admonishing Facebook for mishandling misinformation and saying internet companies should lose a central legal protection.
But his campaign has quietly welcomed onto its staff and policy groups people who have worked with or for Silicon Valley giants, raising concerns among the industry's critics that the companies are seeking to co-opt a potential Biden administration.
One of Biden's closest aides joined the campaign from Apple, while others held senior roles at firms that consulted for major tech companies. And a nearly 700-person volunteer group advising the campaign, the Innovation Policy Committee, includes at least eight people who work for Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times. Other committee members have close ties to the companies, including economists and lawyers who have advised them, and officials at think tanks funded by them.
The presence of the industry's allies inside Biden's policy apparatus and campaign and transition teams—and his campaign's effort to ensure the confidentiality of its policy process—has alarmed an increasingly influential coalition of liberals who say the tech titans stifle competition, disregard user privacy and fail to adequately police hate speech and disinformation.
They are hoping to dissuade Biden from following the example of his former boss, President Barack Obama, whose embrace of tech companies helped turn them into darlings in Washington.
Today the tech giants are trying to fend off new regulations or antitrust lawsuits. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have spent more than a year investigating Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple for possible violations of competition law. During a House hearing last month, lawmakers from both parties grilled the chief executives of all four companies about accusations that their dominance had hurt consumers, rivals and small businesses, as well as what they were doing to police false information.
“The environment is very different now,” said Robert D. Atkinson, the president of a think tank that has been funded in part by Google, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. “When Obama took office, you know, tech was like a bromance kind of thing. Everybody loved it, and people didn't see the issues that some people see now.”
Atkinson is among the allies of Big Tech on the Innovation Policy Committee. While he said the members represented “a fairly diverse set of views,” he predicted that a potential Biden administration would face significant pressure from the left to clamp down on the major tech companies.
文／David McCabe and Kenneth P. Vogel 譯／李京倫、核稿／樂慧生