Replacing Biden Could Change Regulations for Big Tech Companies

President Joe Biden is determined to stay in the presidential race despite questions about his fitness to serve. If that changes, it could change Democrats’ approach to important issues like technology regulation.

Several names have been floated as potential successors to Biden, including Vice President Kamala Harris and California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Given her position in the current administration, Harris would likely be a leading candidate to succeed her, and she has supported Biden’s efforts to strengthen U.S. policies on semiconductor manufacturing, clean energy and artificial intelligence. However, Harris’s direction on regulating big tech companies may not align with Biden’s.

Biden has prioritized U.S. technology and regulatory policy, said Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. West said he was unsure whether a successor would implement Biden’s agenda.

“The question is whether any change would maintain that principle or change it in some respects,” he said.

Approach to regulating big tech firms raises concerns under Harris administration

West said he wasn’t sure how strong Harris’ regulatory approach to big tech could be, given her history. During her tenure as California attorney general, big tech companies largely supported Harris and contributed to her campaign, West said.

Meanwhile, federal agencies under the Biden administration have taken legal action against several big tech companies, including the Justice Department’s case against Apple for monopolizing the smartphone market and the Federal Trade Commission’s case against Meta for dominating the social media market. In an executive order, Biden directed agencies like the FTC to promote competition and address the monopolization of various markets by big tech companies.

“Biden has been very tough on tech regulation,” West said. “He’s put aggressive people in charge of different regulatory agencies.” That includes FTC Chairwoman Linna Khan, who has brought cases against big tech companies like Amazon.

While Harris was widely seen as friendly to the tech industry, West said that if she is elected to succeed Biden and wins the presidential election, she would have to decide whether to continue her friendly stance or strengthen regulatory oversight.

Biden, Harris agree on other US tech policies

Despite their Silicon Valley ties, there likely wouldn’t be much difference between Biden and Harris on U.S. technology policy, said Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

(Harris) has supported policies that would help keep America competitive, which is why she wants a strong technology sector.

Darrell WestSenior Research Fellow, Brookings Institution

He said Harris “aligns with the Biden administration’s position on the tech industry,” as well as on technologies like artificial intelligence.

“Harris was a keynote speaker at the AI ​​Safety Summit and in her speech in the U.K., she highlighted the importance of civil rights issues related to AI, such as addressing bias, in a very personal way,” Castro said.

West said he expects Harris to continue to focus on artificial intelligence and technology innovation for the U.S. economy. That also raises questions about her views on competition policy, he added.

“She supported policies that would help keep America competitive, which is why she wants a strong technology sector,” he said.

Makenzie Holland is a senior reporter covering big tech and federal regulation. Before joining TechTarget Editorial, she was a general assignment reporter Wilmington Star News and a reporter covering crime and education in Wabash Plain Salesman.