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Biden’s executive order cracks down on Big Tech and protects consumers

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses tech policy in the United States and the new White House executive order with no less than 72 competition enhancing measures.

How will Biden's executive order crack down on big tech?

The answer is in almost every way. The order clearly seeks stronger antitrust enforcement with specific provisions on data and the impact of its assembling on privacy. The order asks for new rules on surveillance from the FTC but will also allow for assessments of not only future but also past mergers. And that is important because the very wealthy, very powerful tech companies are known to buy up competitors that they may fear, and through those mergers grow their data piles. So, the executive order must cause concern in Silicon Valley. The order goes on to restore net neutrality, which is crucial for smaller companies and noncommercial websites. And the position of consumers improves with the possibility to have products repaired or to see others doing that, which is a practice that is often banned today. So once these various measures are in place, the public interest, innovation, consumer rights, and privacy protection should be better safeguarded from abuse of power by big tech.

Apple vs Facebook, a clash of the tech titans; social media algorithms scrutiny

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

How big of a blow is Apple's new privacy feature to companies like Facebook, who depend on tracking users?

The long-awaited update, including enhanced privacy features, actually empowers those users to decide not to be tracked. So that's great news for people who are sick of how the data trail they leave behind on the web is used. But it has to be said, that simple feature settings changed by Apple cannot solve the problem of misuse of data and microtargeting alone. Still, Apple's move was met with predictable outrage and anti-trust accusations from ad giant Facebook. I would anticipate more standard setting by companies in the absence of a federal data protection law in the United States. That's just to mention one vacuum that big tech thrives on.

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The geopolitics of the chips that make your tech work

Why may a drought in Taiwan perhaps screw up your next computer purchase?

For one thing, the island is one of the world's top producers of semiconductors, which bind the electrical circuits in the tech we use in our daily lives. Cell phones, laptops, modern cars, and even airplanes all rely on these tiny computer chips. For another, Taiwan is now suffering its worst climate change-related dry spell in almost 70 years. This is a problem because Taiwanese chip factories consume huge amounts of water.

The wider issue, though, is a pandemic-fueled worldwide chip shortage that began way before it stopped raining in Taiwan, has wreaked havoc on entire sectors like the US auto industry, and is shaking up the increasingly contentious geopolitics of global supply chains.

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US joins in call to regulate Big Tech; EU proposes AI tech regulation

Get insights on the latest news about emerging trends in cyberspace from Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford University's Cyber Policy Center and former European Parliamentarian:

This week we talk about one of my favorite topics, regulation. Laws are often framed as a barrier to innovation and not always recognized as a key enabler of freedoms and the protection of rights. But what's more is that regulation is a process, and one that can have tons of different outcomes. So, being in favor or against regulation doesn't mean anything. Except that those who oppose any changes are apparently benefiting from the status quo.

Is the world at a tipping point when it comes to regulating big tech?

And I would say absolutely. The outsized power of big tech is recognized more broadly because the harms are so blatantly clear. Harms to democracy, public health, but also to fairness in the economy are all related to the outsized power of unaccountable and under-regulated big tech. Now, what's significant is that this debate has finally hit home in the United States after it was already recognized as a problem in many other parts of the world.

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Will tech giants be taxed for worldwide profits with a global tax rate?

Get insights on the latest news about emerging trends in cyberspace from Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford University's Cyber Policy Center and former European Parliamentarian:

Today, we talk about the "T word", as I often refer to: taxation. But that taboo is finally broken in the United States.

How would a global minimum corporate tax rate, like the one Janet Yellen has called for, affect Big Tech?

Now, ideally, it would ensure a level playing field for all companies, and European leaders embrace the US change of course, but they did add that there should be ways to tax tech giants for their global profits. It's a demand that is widely shared in Europe. So the hope is that that can be arranged between all OECD members.

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EU & US: democracy frames tech approaches; Australia & Facebook flipflop

In a world where data is more valuable than oil and cyberattacks are rapidly emerging as modern warfare, our new series Cyber in 60 Seconds explores what it all means for you—from data privacy to national security. Hosted by Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford University's Cyber Policy Center and former European Parliamentarian, this weekly video series will bring you the latest news on big tech, privacy protection and emerging trends in cyberspace.
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What We’re Watching: Facebook refriends Australia, Biden on Afghan fence, Philippine labor for COVID jabs

Facebook "refriends" Australia: Last week, Facebook abruptly blocked news from appearing on Australian users' feeds after Canberra proposed a law requiring Big Tech companies pay news outlets for sharing their content. Facebook came under fire globally for banning news sharing in Australia, including crucial public health announcements on COVID. Now, five days later, Facebook has reversed course to suddenly lift the news ban. "Facebook has re-friended Australia," Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said after speaking with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. So, what changed? The two sides say they have reached a compromise, though some details remain murky. The Australian government will make several amendments to the Big Tech bill — including one that will allow Facebook to circumvent the new code and avoid hefty fines — if the social media platform shows a "significant contribution" to Australia's local journalism scene. In theory, this would require Facebook to prove it has cut enough deals with Aussie media companies to pay them for content — but what constitutes "enough" remains unclear. Frydenberg said Australia has been a "proxy battle" for the rest of the globe on Big Tech regulation. Indeed, Europe and the US have been fastidiously taking notes.

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