President Biden on Friday named Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor, to the National Economic Council as a special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy, putting one of the most outspoken critics of Big Tech’s power into the administration.
The appointment of Mr. Wu, 48, who is widely supported by progressive Democrats and antimonopoly groups, suggests that the administration plans to take on the size and influence of companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, including working with Congress on legislation to strengthen antitrust laws. During his campaign, Mr. Biden said he would be open to breaking up tech companies.
That confrontational approach toward the tech industry would be a continuation of the one taken by the Trump administration. Late last year, federal and state regulators sued Facebook and Google, accusing them of antitrust violations. The regulators continue to investigate claims that Amazon and Apple unfairly squash competition.
Mr. Biden has also expressed skepticism toward social media companies and the legal shield known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. He told the New York Times editorial board in January 2020 that Section 230 “should be revoked, immediately.”
The tech companies have fought vigorously against new antitrust laws and regulations, building out some of the most potent lobbying forces in Washington to push back.
Mr. Wu has warned about the consequences of too much power in the hands of a few companies and said the nation’s economy resembled the Gilded Age of the late 1800s.
“Extreme economic concentration yields gross inequality and material suffering, feeding the appetite for nationalistic and extremist leadership,” Mr. Wu wrote in his 2018 book, “The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age.”
“Most visible in our daily lives is the great power of the tech platforms, especially Google, Facebook and Amazon,” he added. [Continue reading…]