WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES (AFP) – President Joe Biden called on United States (US) lawmakers on Tuesday to restrict how social media companies lure children and collect their data, as he accused Big Tech of conducting a “for profit” experiment on the nation’s youth.
“We must finally hold social media companies accountable for the experiment they are running on our children for profit,” Biden said during his State of the Union Speech before a joint session of Congress.
“And it’s time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targetted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data that companies collect on all of us.” Biden’s remarks, which drew robust applause from members of both parties, were his latest shot across Big Tech’s bow.
The president, highlighting the risks that social media pose for Americans, last month urged Republicans and his Democrats to break through years of political gridlock and pass laws that would rein in the power of US-based tech giants Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook-owner Meta.
Biden has repeatedly advocated for greater protection of people’s online privacy and their personal data.
The US has trailed governments in Europe and Asia in drawing up more modern rules to curb the power of the biggest tech companies.
In a January op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Biden said a law could give authorities access to the algorithms that power social media and that legislators should rethink an existing law that absolves tech companies of responsibility for content on their sites.
There is bipartisan support to reform that long-standing provision, known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, but disagreement between political parties on how to proceed.
Such an antitrust law is seen as a longshot, with Republicans who last month took control of the House of Representatives after November’s election reluctant to thwart big business.
Big Tech companies have lobbied hard in recent years to counter any momentum to legislate in Washington.