The behaviors of platform and social media companies have evolved under the heat of the spotlight. Regulation takes time, and a lot of hearings, to produce tangible results. One upshot of four years of high-profile hearings is that tech companies now know how to play the game. Sometimes the goal isn't to pass a law. Congress uses the bully pulpit to force companies to self-regulate.
Here are the names you'll hear a lot as Biden builds out his tech policy apparatus at the Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission:
Facebook is looking externally for a new US policy chief as it moves Kevin Martin, a Republican and former Federal Communications Commission chairman who now holds the job, to lead the firm's global economic policy team. Facebook is moving on from the Trump era in which Republicans held most of the power in Washington and Facebook was particularly eager among tech companies to forge warm relations with GOP policymakers.
Silicon Valley's leading lobby, the Internet Association, is struggling to manage the competing interests of the companies it represents just as the industry faces a tide of bipartisan anger. Lobbying hasn't been working for tech for a while because too many firms are working at cross purposes. "A trade association can only do what its members tell it to do," said one person familiar with IA's work. "Facebook begging to be regulated puts the smaller companies in a bad position.
Georgia's election results handing Senate control to Democratic lawmakers mean the incoming Biden administration can fill key seats at the agencies that regulate tech.
A fight over foreign countries' efforts to tax big American tech companies' digital services is likely to come to a head in January just as Joe Biden takes office. Governments have failed to reach a broad multilateral agreement on how to structure such taxes.
House Democrats and Republicans are finding common ground on a set of principles for countering tech monopolies that they believe could drive a bipartisan push in the new Congress to update antitrust law. Representatives from both parties are finding it easier to agree on antitrust policy ideas than on proposals about content moderation and liability, where the two parties
Joe Biden's transformation into president-elect Saturday kicks off a new era for tech, giving an industry that's found itself increasingly at odds with government the chance for a reset. Biden's ascent could see the restoration of some tech-friendly Obama-era policies but is unlikely to end the bipartisan techlash that grew during Trump's term.
Even the best technology can't eliminate the inherent problems of virtual schooling. Several key technological stumbling blocks have persisted in keeping remote learning from meeting its full potential.
The coronavirus crisis may offer a grim preview of further marginalization for Americans of color in the coming decades, a new Deutsche Bank report concludes. "COVID is a picture of what the world might look like in the future as it gets more digitized," Apjit Walia, a technology strategist with Deutsche Bank, told Axios.