Updated: Jan 2
Recent Big Tech News - January, 2023
With Democrats in charge of the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, no major Big Tech bills have been passed since Joe Biden became President. Even with bi-partisan support, Democrat leadership has prevented any significant Big Tech bills from reaching the floors of the U.S. Senate or U.S. House. In 2023, New York Senator Chuck Schumer will remain in charge of the Democrats in the U.S Senate, while California Representative Nancy Pelosi will no longer serve in Democrat leadership in the U.S. House. According to Opensecrets, tens of millions of dollars were spent in 2022 by Amazon, Apple, Facebook (Meta) and Google (Alphabet) to block Big Tech legislation. There were failed attempts to include Big Tech legislation in the almost $1.7 trillion Omnibus bill passed in December, 2022. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby was the top Republican negotiator for that bill. One of the groups lobbying to stop Big Tech legislation is the American Edge Project. In late 2019, Facebook (Meta) helped launch American Edge Project to counter efforts by U.S. legislators to create laws that would mostly affect Big Tech companies. You've likely seen the American Edge Project's advertisements. American Edge Project is made up mostly of former federal government workers. The former elected officials American Edge Project employs include Chris Carney (D-PA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Greg Walden (R-OR), as well as Susana Martinez, former Republican Governor of New Mexico.
On August 6, 2020, former President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order to ban TikTok in the United States. On June 9, 2021, President Joe Biden revoked the Trump Executive Orders related to TikTok and other China linked software. In August, 2020, the ACLU proclaimed that Trump's Executive Order banning TikTok "violates the First Amendment and does little to protect our personal data from abuse" and that it was an "abuse of emergency powers under the pretense of national security". In September, 2020, Alex Stamos, the former head of security for Facebook, "urged Apple, Google and Amazon to seek a court order" to block the Trump action stating "the executive branch deciding what is allowed to be on the phones of Americans, with no judicial process or detailed guidelines that companies could follow to be in compliance, is a huge strike against the freedoms of US citizens and the open internet." In the past two months, a Democrat Senator and two federal agency directors have made statements suggesting that Trump was right about banning TikTok. In November, 2022, Democrat Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), actually stated "I think Donald Trump was right," adding "TikTok is an enormous threat". According to this December, 2022, Fox News report, "Chinese officials have the ability to control TikTok’s recommendation algorithm" which FBI Director Christopher Wray stated "allows them to manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations." In a December, 2022 interview with PBS, CIA Director William Burns stated that the TikTok app was "genuinely troubling." On December 29, 2022, eighteen months after President Biden revoked Donald Trump's ban on TikTok, Biden signed the Omnibus bill into law, which includes a ban of TikTok on U.S. government devices.