Will we see big changes in the tech industry under the Biden administration?
Biden won’t want to rock the boat early on, and he’ll need to keep those donors on his side.
While President Biden has only been in office a few short days, many in the tech industry are asking what the next four years have in store for them. It’s still early days, but analysis shows interesting times could be on the horizon.
A Regulatory Crusade or An Olive Branch?
During the Democratic primaries, Biden was vocal in his opposition of the centralization of big tech’s power, calling out Facebook specifically for a lack of privacy and failing to take responsibility for the content on its platform.
The social media giant, alongside its tech industry counterparts like Google, Amazon, and Apple, have already seen dozens of antitrust suits in the European Union (EU), which led to hefty fines for anti-competitive practices.
Judging on Biden’s past fiery rhetoric, we could see new regulations that open the floodgates here in the US to similar suits, and even the repeal of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which would make social media companies open to civil litigation based on possible misleading content found on these platforms. Now, that will make the next four years interesting, to say the least.
However, Vice-president Harris is well-known to have close ties with a number of important players in Silicon Valley, and five out of 10 of the largest contributors to the Biden-Harris Campaign were big tech organizations. What’s more, Amazon has started to ingratiate itself with the new administration by offering the use of its warehouse infrastructure to assist with the Covid vaccine roll-out.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, we expect a fairly light regulatory touch, at least initially. Biden won’t want to rock the boat early on, and he’ll need to keep those donors on his side. We may however see growing pressure from rebellious house Democrats, where a movement to break up the social media giants has been gathering steam in recent years, which Biden will find increasingly difficult to ignore.
Plus, this type of regulation is popular with the public, meaning we could see some big antitrust law changes a couple of years into the new administration.
Consequences for Big Data
Whatever happens to the giants of the tech world, we’re sure to see consequences relating to data management for us all. The American people are becoming steadily more ticked off at the way some organizations have been managing their data, acting with an attitude that the industry can do as it pleases with our information.
We may see data protection laws enacted on a federal scale, rather than the mish-mash of state laws we have at the moment. Currently, only California has a comprehensive set of data regulations, which are similar in style to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that was brought into force across the EU in May 2018.
While difficult to enforce federally, Biden could encourage states to adopt similar laws individually. Even without new regulations, though, any company that handles large amounts of customer data will need to adapt to changing customer attitudes and needs.
Marketers and advertisers need to get creative. What’s needed is new, data-driven marketing campaigns. Rather than the scattergun approach of the past, we expect organizations to collect targeted pieces of customer information that’ll add value to both marketer and customer. By adding a human touch to data collection, your customers will be more than information on a spreadsheet and instead can be marketed to creatively.
Regardless of the government’s attempts to regulate data collection, we’re sure to see more innovative data management solutions hit the market in the next four years.
Biden made a number of interesting promises to the industry during his campaign that we’d like to see fulfilled. First, he pledged $300 billion to a ‘Breakthrough Technologies’ fund and, while details are still vague, we expect it to cover a mass 5G roll-out and a commitment to getting high-speed broadband to every American.
In addition, the administration wants to encourage innovation, particularly in the areas of environmentally friendly tech such as power generation, efficient batteries, agricultural equipment, and emission-reducing appliances. We could see increased subsidies to encourage growth here, so watch this space.
We expect Biden’s focus to be squarely aimed at introducing protections against nation-state actions. The SolarWinds attack back in December 2020 clearly showed the weaknesses in the government’s security infrastructure and supply network.
What form these protections take remains to be seen, but could involve increased due diligence and vetting of contractors working for the government. There’s an outside chance that the government may use the looming threat of the cyberattack to bring in more surveillance and regulations in certain industries too, especially those that utilize data.