High Speculation Time for Biden Tech Policies

You’re forgiven for ignoring the news in ad tech last week—the AdMonsters team might also have been constantly refreshing vote-count sites (just think of all the impressions!), desperately searching for updates, any updates. Damn you, Nevada, are you counting on your fingers?

But alas, we have a projected presidential election winner, so we can all sorta go back to normal and focusing on the latest developments in ad tech… Right after we check if the latest vote totals…

Nope—still stuck in election mode. There’s gotta be a way to tie the election and ad tech together? Well, what does a Joe Biden presidency mean for ad tech and digital media? The speculators are out in force!

Adweek’s comprehensive article sums up most of the predictions out there.  First off, additional antitrust crackdowns against large tech platforms—starting with a major amendment to the apparently hastily constructed and politically motivated antitrust suit against Google

Sources also expect a federal online privacy law is on the agenda, though Adweek uses the subhead “One law to rule them all” when legislative options on the table like the one from Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash) would not supersede state laws like CCPA—that won’t be popular with pubs.

Net neutrality will likely make a welcome comeback before any bad actors took advantage of its cancellation. But many are curious about candidate Biden’s desire to revoke the ever-controversial Section 230 liability protections for digital media. There’s some suggestion of replacement legislation for Section 230 that might encourage more responsible content monitoring by social platforms and shared liability.

But what might that look like? No one has the faintest idea. It’s definitely not going to resemble Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) bizarre anti-behavioral ad bill that used the canceling of Section 230 protections as a punishment.

All right, AdMonsters already joined the speculating! Most definitely the Google antitrust suit is going to be amended because it’s weak and sad. Section 230 is not going anywhere because there’s no good alternative—liability protections make for a better Internet, believe it or not, and the market will have to effect change over social platform monitoring.

Federal privacy legislation is where things get interesting. It’s long been a bipartisan issue—even if we fear Republicans will try to rope section 230 revocation into any online privacy debate and stymie the process. And get this: Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and even the IAB all want a federal privacy law—namely so they don’t have to comply with 50 divergent privacy laws plus whatever territories come up with. 

“Is Florida opt-in or opt-out? Am I getting the ‘selling data’ definition mixed up with the one from Idaho?” They want a superseding federal privacy law—which makes a lot of sense. Look at the difficulties the EU Commission is having with GDPR—the report card issued by the Commission admits the greatest difficulty aligning guidance across countries’ Data Protection Authorities.

But as we mentioned earlier, Sen. Cantwell’s legislation will keep CCPA and the newly passed CPRA intact. The fear behind federal privacy law for a long time has been that lobbyists from the dominating digital data dominions would compose toothless, enforcement-free guidelines similar to ad tech “self-regulation.” The bigger issue might be baseline federal regs that leave publishers and ad tech players lost in a labyrinth of state regs.