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Leading big tech joins white house:


Tim Wu is a law professor at Columbia University. On Friday, President Biden put him on the National Economic Council as a special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy. This means that the administration now has one of the most vocal critics of the power of Big Tech.

The appointment of Mr. Wu, who is 48 years old and has a lot of support from progressive Democrats and anti-monopoly groups, shows that the administration wants to deal with the size and power of companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. One way they might do this is by working with Congress to make antitrust laws stronger. During his campaign, Mr. Biden said that he wouldn’t mind if tech companies were broken up.

This confrontational approach to the tech industry would be like what the Trump administration has been doing. At the end of last year, federal and state regulators sued Facebook and Google for breaking antitrust laws. The government is still looking into claims that Amazon and Apple unfairly stop other companies from competing.

Leading big tech joins white house:

Mr. Biden has also said that he doesn’t trust social media companies and that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act isn’t a good way to protect people’s rights. In January 2020, he told the New York Times editorial board that Section 230 “should be taken away right away.”

Tech companies have fought hard against new antitrust laws and regulations. To do this, they have built some of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington.

Mr. Wu has warned about what happens when too much power is held by too few companies. He has also said that the economy of the United States is like it was in the late 1800s, during the Gilded Age.

In his 2018 book, “The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age,” Mr. Wu wrote that when there is a lot of economic concentration, there is a lot of inequality and material suffering. This makes people want nationalistic and extremist leaders.

“The great power of tech platforms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon is most clear in our daily lives,” he said.

Before he started working at the White House, Mr. Wu wrote for The Times as a contributing writer.

A writer passes out. As he gets better, his dispatches keep people interested.
His new job in the National Economic Council will focus on competition policy. Mr. Wu will also talk about competition in labor policy, such as companies’ use of noncompete clauses, and the way power is concentrated in the agriculture and drug industries. The Senate does not have to agree to the job.

Mr. Biden has not yet named the people he wants to lead the antitrust division of the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, which are the main agencies that watch over the competition in business. Progressives have fought hard to get left-leaning advocates as Mr. Wu appointed instead of people who have worked for tech companies or law firms that represent them.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said in a statement, “Tim has been an antitrust advocate for a long time, and he has pushed public officials to break up and control Big Tech.” “I’m glad he’s playing this part.”

Mr. Wu has left the academic world more than once to work for the government. In 2011 and 2012, he was a special adviser to the Federal Trade Commission. After that, he joined the National Economic Council to work on competition policy during the Obama administration, which was known for being soft on tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon. Mr. Wu has since said that he is sorry.

“I worked in the Obama administration and in antitrust, so I’ll take some of the blame here, but we haven’t done what we should have with merger oversight,” Mr. Wu said in an interview at the 2019 Aspen Ideas festival. He also said, “Maybe we had an overly optimistic view of the tech sector at times.”

During President Barack Obama’s two terms, these companies grew a lot through mergers and acquisitions because regulations didn’t limit them too much. Mr. Wu has talked about how many Democrats have changed their minds since then, after realizing that the tech giants haven’t kept their promises to protect user data, treat small competitors fairly, and get rid of false information on their platforms.

Mr. Wu is best known for fighting against big telecom companies and for coming up with the term “net neutrality.” This is the idea that all content on the internet should be available to consumers in the same way. More recently, he has focused on the gatekeepers, like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, that control online speech, search, and shopping.

During federal and state antitrust investigations of Facebook, he worked with Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes to argue for breaking up the company.

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the Democratic chair of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, said that the appointment sets the stage for a new era in antitrust enforcement. Ms. Klobuchar has put forward a big bill to make antitrust laws stronger.

“The laws haven’t changed, so it’s important to enforce them and come up with new ideas,” she said. “This is what competition policy needs to get going.”


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