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Biden executive order pushes for scrutiny of tech giants

Biden executive order pushes for scrutiny of tech giants

Joe Biden

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President Joe Biden signed an executive order Friday to spur more competition as the economy begins ramping up following the COVID-19 pandemic. The action will affect a wide range of industries — in particular, the tech industry. 

Biden’s “Promoting Competition in the American Economy” executive order consists of 72 directives for federal agencies. Regarding the tech industry, the president ordered the Federal Trade Commission to establish rules on surveillance and the accumulation of data, to bar unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces and to prevent restrictions on allowing independent repair shops and DIY repairs on people’s own equipment, also known as right-to-repair. In addition, Biden announced a policy for greater scrutiny of mergers, singling out “dominant internet platforms.”  

“No more tolerance for abusive actions by monopolies,” Biden said in Friday’s press conference. “Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation.” 

Large tech companies have been under greater scrutiny from politicians and government agencies for buying its rivals instead of competing with them. Facebook’s acquisitions of photo app Instagram and messaging app WhatsApp has been the focus of antitrust complaints against the company. Last week, a federal judge dismissed lawsuits filed by the Federal Trade Commission and a group of state attorneys general that accused the social media giant of engaging in anticompetitive practices. The FTC can file an amended complaint. 

Biden’s executive order also goes after how tech companies gather a trove of personal data as part of their business. The order encourages the FTC to create new rules on surveillance and the accumulation of data. Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

More info to come. 

CNET’s Queenie Wong contributed to this report.

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