President Biden has called for stronger limits on the data collected by large tech companies in his State of the Union address, signalling a much greater focus on the sector than his predecessors.
Biden called on Congress to “pass bipartisan legislation to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on children and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect on all of us.”
With political control of the US Congress now split, Biden asserted that a data privacy law could gain bipartisan support.
“We must finally hold social media companies accountable for experimenting they’re doing [on] children for profit,” Biden said during his speech. “It’s time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on our kids and teenagers online. Ban targeted advertising to children and impose stricter limits on the personal data that companies collect on all of us.”
The move is significant, as former president Donald Trump never mentioned the topic in any of his annual addresses and former president Barack Obama only mentioned the topic only once during the 2014 State of the Union, after the NSA scandal on undisclosed bulk surveillance programs.
In his remarks, Biden called for cooperation among lawmakers—a dynamic lacking in both chambers on Capitol Hill. “To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together and find consensus on important things in this Congress as well,” he said.
The White House previewed some of these privacy provisions and other content in a Fact Sheet.
"Businesses of every size depend on such ads to reach new customers and grow"
Commenting on the speech, Bob LiodiceI CEO at the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) said the State of the Union Address could impact the whole ad industry.
“President Biden is absolutely correct that the time has come for strong national privacy legislation, and the ANA and our advertising industry peers look forward to rolling up our sleeves and working with his administration and Congress to craft a robust bipartisan plan,” Liodice said.
“In that effort, we must be sure we don't throw out the champagne with the cork. Digital advertising funds most popular apps, websites, and services, and businesses of every size depend on such ads to reach new customers and grow, so we should make sure that any legislation is designed to address specific consumer harms and not out of a general antipathy toward any use of data."
"Through good-faith collaboration, we can codify important data protections for consumers while protecting valuable ad-supported content and services. Our common goal should be to stop unreasonable and unexpected data practices while allowing beneficial practices that drive innovation, growth, and consumer benefit," Liodice concluded.