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Oct. 1, 2020, 5:21 p.m. EDT

Here’s where Biden and Trump stand on antitrust, social media and other tech issues

No matter who wins the presidential race, expect Big Tech to continue to be a target for Republicans and Democrats alike

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By Jon Swartz

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The Trump campaign did not respond to an email message.

Social Media Regulation

Social-media companies have felt the rhetorical sting of both presidential candidates, largely around one of the only major laws governing the internet that the federal government has managed to pass.

Even though Trump benefited greatly from an aggressive digital campaign to win the White House in 2016, he continues to claim — in tweets — that platforms unfairly censor conservative viewpoints. Things spiraled in May, when Twitter Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR +0.30%   slapped fact-checking labels on Trump tweets for the first time, prompting the president to threaten to introduce legislation that would weaken Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 federal law that exempts online platforms from legal liability for material users post, for the most part. Trump subsequently called for repeal of Section 230 in a Sept. 8 tweet. Neither action has had much effect.

Read: Here’s where Trump and Biden stand on health care

On Thursday, the Republican-run Senate Commerce Committee voted to subpoena Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai to appear for a hearing on Section 230. Committee chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said the hearing, which has no assigned date, would be to address allegations of anticonservative bias on social-media platforms.

Biden, who has criticized Facebook’s policies on political ads and manipulated videos, was the only Democratic presidential candidate who called for revoking Section 230 in the primaries. On Tuesday, the Biden campaign eviscerated Facebook as “the nation’s foremost propagator of disinformation about the voting process” in a letter to Zuckerberg lamenting Facebook’s refusal to remove voting misinformation posted by Trump.

The differing views on Section 230 highlights contrasting political approaches.

“Whenever you have a platform dealing with content, there will be an argument over removal of content, which is the Republicans’ view, vs. failure to remove content, which is where the Democrats stand,” Paven Malhotra, a Silicon Valley attorney who specializes in intellectual property, told MarketWatch. “Nonetheless, I expect a groundswell of movement next year by both parties to modify 230.”

Data Privacy

As Congress wends its way toward federal consumer privacy legislation, Biden has voiced support for national privacy “standards not unlike the Europeans,” an apparent reference to the European Union’s strict General Data Protection Regulation.

The Trump administration, in turn, has criticized Silicon Valley over the issue of encryption. The president called for a boycott of Apple early in his presidency for the company’s refusal to unlock iPhones used by mass shooters in San Bernardino, Calif., and has continued to push that issue .

For more: Here’s where Trump and Biden stand on climate change

In recent months, the Trump administration has ramped up attacks on GDPR, calling it a restrictive system that provides cover to cybercriminals and threatens public health.

“We do have serious concerns about its [the GDPR’s] overly restrictive implications for public safety and law enforcement,” U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber Rob Strayer, told Politico in late June . “We definitely find that divergent interpretations [of the law] are also an issue, chilling some of the commerce that could be taking place.”

High-speed Broadband Access

The pandemic has forced millions of Americans to work from home and attend school, putting a premium on high-speed broadband and exposing inequalities in availability of the technology nationally.

Both candidates support some plan to bring ultrafast connections to everyone: The FTC in January approved a $20 billion rural broadband expansion fund, while Biden said he plans a $20 billion investment in rural broadband infrastructure as part of a package his team proposed to spend money collected from tax increases on wealthy Americans.

Gig Jobs

Biden has suggested using government regulation to force “gig economy” businesses to pay for benefits to their independent contractors by reclassifying them as employees.The Trump campaign claims a California gig-worker law that does that will “take away workers’ opportunity to make their own schedules and participate in a free and open gig economy.”

The Labor Department, led by Trump appointee Eugene Scalia, last year said people offering services on online sites or apps should be considered employees of the consumer who hires them, making it difficult for gig workers to win labor disputes.

See also: How Trump and Biden tax policies could affect your paycheck

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Jon Swartz is a senior reporter for MarketWatch in San Francisco, covering many of the biggest players in tech, including Netflix, Facebook and Google. Jon has covered technology for more than 20 years, and previously worked for Barron's and USA Today. Follow him on Twitter @jswartz.

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