As the world watches efforts to rein in the biggest tech firms — including antitrust probes in the US and the EU amid calls to break up the Big Tech — the arrival of Kamala Harris as the next US Vice President is a blessing for the famous FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) family.
Although Harris was among the first few who supported the idea to break up Facebook last year, she has been a moderate voice, calling for tech reforms and better protection of consumer data.
“Facebook has experienced massive growth and has prioritized its growth over the best interests of its consumers. We need to seriously take a look at breaking up Facebook. It is essentially a utility that has gone unregulated,” she said during an interview with CNN.
However, Harris came up through San Francisco politics and has many friends and allies in Silicon Valley, including among the Big Tech billionaire group.
When Biden announced her nomination as Democratic Vice President candidate in August, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg posted a photo of Harris on Instagram, cheering her selection as a “huge moment for Black women and girls all over the world”.
For Harris’ 2014 bid for reelection as California Attorney General, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and then Yahoo executive Marissa Mayer and Apple’s Jony Ive were among the fundraisers.
As both Attorney General and as a senator, Harris pressured online platforms into action in a fight against revenge porn.
Democratic fundraiser Cooper Teboe told Vox recently that for the California, Silicon Valley donor community — who are worried about things like tech and repatriation and taxes and so on and so forth — she is the pick that they will be happiest with.
During the Democratic primary debates, Harris said that Twitter should be forced to shut down President Donald Trump”s account in the name of “accountability”.
The biggest issue facing tech companies under President Biden will be reforms to anti-trust law.
Last month, in the biggest antitrust case against a tech company in two decades, the US Department of Justice and 11 state Attorneys General sued Google, alleging the tech giant has abused its market position in the domain of online search.
Lawmakers from the US House of Representatives also accused Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple of “abuses of monopoly power” in a separate 449-page report.
The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee drew its conclusions after a 16-month investigation that culminated in an hours-long hearing with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai in July.
However,”Biden has said it’s too early to talk about breaking up companies and instead has leaned toward regulation as a way to curb their power,” reports CNET.
“Democrats are troubled by the rampant flow of hate speech and disinformation, including interference by foreign countries in the 2020 US presidential election”.
Coming from Silicon Valley, Harris knows Big Tech better than others in the party, including Democrat Elizabeth Warren who had vowed to break up Facebook and Google.