• Aayushi Jain

Trump and Biden on Big Tech in 2020

A quick read on how each 2020 election candidate is shaping up to address tech policy

The 2020 Presidential Election is right around the corner. With just about three months left, Joe Biden (D) is polling ahead of incumbent president Donald Trump (R) in key battleground states. Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues to spread like wildfire and the U.S. faces a staggering 5 million cases. As a result, this year’s election may be impacted not only by the pandemic but also America's changing opinion on Big Tech.

As a brief introduction, here are some key facts about the 2020 election thus far:

  • Donald Trump has raised about $415 million in funding, of which 82.6% is candidate committee money with the rest coming from outside funding

  • Joe Biden has raised about $410 million in funding, of which 66.8% is candidate committee money with the rest coming from outside funding

  • The line is fuzzy when it comes to big tech limiting 2020 presidential campaign messages on social media platforms. Misinformation, fact-checking concerns, internal confusion, and inconsistent rules are creating unique challenges

  • Both Biden and Trump appear to support expanding America’s internet infrastructure, closing the “digital divide,” and encouraging American innovation and leadership in the race to 5G. This article highlights each candidate’s stance on broadband tech policy.

Joe Biden, although a critic of big tech companies, appears to have a campaign closely associated with Silicon Valley giants such as Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google. However, these ties are concerning liberals who are worried about these companies suppressing competition in the tech world, disregarding privacy and user rights, and inadequately addressing hate speech and misinformation. Biden has avoided making tech a big focus of his campaign, but doing so and allying with tech titans risks the wrath of Americans who believe the tech sector and its leaders need increased regulation. When asked about the issue, Google, Apple, and Facebook all signaled that their employees working on the Biden campaign were doing so on their own time and not as representatives of each company.

Donald Trump has been adamant about the “fairness” of the tech industry, yet its unclear how he will address antitrust concerns. He’s threatened to use executive orders to rein in tech giants if Congress fails to take action. The issue, although potentially partially rooted in how users’ right to free speech is treated, lies in the enforcement of competition and monopoly laws. Forbes explains that government antitrust intervention entails influencing business models and the trajectory of economic sectors in “non-market” directions. Both democrats and republicans favor antitrust regulation again Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, and these companies are the target of a federal antitrust investigation by the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission. What’s surprising, however, is how vocal Trump has been in attacking tech giants, especially when it comes to content moderation. In May, he issued an executive order targeting these companies’ supposed “online censorship”.

As the tech policy landscape grows increasingly complex, the government and tech sector will undoubtedly clash over free speech and antitrust concerns. As a result, both Biden and Trump’s positions, partnerships, and plans relating to tech titans may become an important factor in this year’s election.

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