Monday , November 30 2020

Biden’s main advisor is likely to see technology regulation

SAN FRANCISCO: Chief technology adviser-elect Joe Biden has helped create California’s online privacy law and recently condemned a controversial federal statute that protects internet companies from liability as an indicator of how the Biden administration can fall short on two key technology policies.

Bruce Reed, a former employee of Biden who is expected to play an important role in the new administration, helped negotiate with the technology industry and lawmakers on behalf of sponsors of the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act. Proponents of privacy see this law as a possible model for a national law.

Reed also wrote a chapter in a book published last month that denounces the federal law known as Article 230, which makes it impossible for Internet companies to sue for the content of users ’messages. Both Republicans and Democrats have called for 230 reform or abolition, and critics say it has allowed social abuse to flourish.

Reed, a veteran political activist, served as Biden’s chief of staff from 2011 to 2013 when Biden was U.S. vice president. In that role was Ron Klain, who was recently named head of the White House staff. He was president of the Reed Broad Fund, the most important philanthropic organization in Los Angeles, and later Laurene Powell Jobs as an advisor to the Emerson Collective in Palo Alto, California.

Biden’s campaign identified Reed as a key figure in technology policy, but did not want to make him available for dialogue.


Reed, 60, participated in the California Privacy Campaign as a Common Sense Media Strategist to advise healthy parents and businesses on nonprofits created by Stanford University professor James Steyer.

Technology companies were initially opposed to the voting initiative that laid the groundwork for the law, as consumers have the right to know what information about them is provided to the company and to delete that information.

But Reed helped Apple Inc remove the package by writing the language it could live in, according to Alastair Mactaggart, a real estate developer who carried out the voting initiative.

“He understands that there has to be good regulation,” Mactaggart said. “He wants to do something. He wasn’t an ideologue who would take his toys and go home if he wasn’t perfect. ‘

As the initiative became a more compelling threat at the time, the rest of the industry appeared ready to come to the table as California Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg retained most of the initiative’s power but wrote a last-minute bill to offer big tech companies a chance. smooth in the following years. Reed was at the heart of the team working on the bill, Hertzberg told Reuters.

“This initiative wouldn’t have happened without Bruce, there’s no doubt about it. He took it seriously when everyone else didn’t,” Hertzberg said.

Reed’s stance around 230 may be more controversial. In a book published last month, “Which Party’s History? How Technology Is Shaping Democracy and Our Lives,” Steyer and Reed wrote a chapter that called 230 children enemies. Although 230 let the freedom of technology flourish, they wrote that it has now gone against the wishes of its sponsors by giving companies a financial incentive to encourage hatred and abuse.

“If they sell ads along with harmful content, they should be considered accomplices of the damage,” Steyer and Reed wrote. “If their algorithms promote harmful content, they should be concerned with helping to fix the damage. In the long run, the only real way to moderate content is to moderate the business model.”

(Report by Joseph Menn in San Francisco; published by Jonathan Weber and Matthew Lewis)

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