Year in Review: Five notable tech bills passed this year as Silicon Valley faces populist backlash

TikTok and Facebook application  on screen Apple iPhone XR
TikTok and Facebook application on screen Apple iPhone XR (Anatoliy Sizov/Getty Images)

Year in Review: Five notable tech bills passed this year as Silicon Valley faces populist backlash

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Congress was able to pass a few small yet significant pieces of technology-related legislation amid growing populist hostility toward Big Tech from the Left over profit margins and the Right over culture war issues.

Whether it is the need to improve the United States’s ability to create semiconductors or restrict TikTok’s data access, the House and the Senate have had a few successful bills that affected the industry. There were also efforts to pass larger legislative changes organized by Big Tech critics that stalled or were fended off by lobbyists and tech advocates.

Here are the tech-related bills that succeeded and failed to pass in 2022.

WOULD PRIVACY LEGISLATION HELP DAVID OR GOLIATH

CHIPS Act: Lawmakers took a significant step toward limiting reliance on China for computer chips by passing the CHIPS Act, which will provide tens of billions of dollars to manufacturers to construct semiconductor plants in the U.S. The bill has prompted several semiconductor companies to begin building new plants in Arizona, New York, and Ohio.

TikTok ban: Congress has grown increasingly skeptical of TikTok and its Chinese owner, ByteDance, for its affiliations with the Chinese Communist Party and reports that Chinese officials can access U.S. data. Those worries led Congress to ban installing the app on government devices in the omnibus spending bill to get it passed expediently.

INFORM Consumers Act: The INFORM Consumers Act will force online marketplaces to gather personal identifying information from online sellers. This data collection will help retailers combat sellers reselling stolen products for profit, a step favored by retailers facing a theft wave. The House approved the bill in October, and it was incorporated into the omnibus spending bill for expedited passage.

Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act: This legislation was also incorporated into the omnibus spending bill and updated the filing fees for mergers. The update is meant to give antitrust regulators more funding and tools to control who can merge with or acquire other companies.

Safe Connections Act: This small piece of legislation was signed into law in November and allowed victims of domestic abuse to ask phone providers to separate their phone lines from those of their partners with ease if their partner is abusive or controlling.

WOULD PRIVACY LEGISLATION HELP DAVID OR GOLIATH

The legislation that didn’t pass: Lawmakers have pushed for larger legislation to pass in the last year, including the Open App Markets Act, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, and several other bills that would challenge the monopolies of Big Tech giants like Google and Facebook. The Open App Markets Act would stop app providers like Apple and Google from engaging in “anti-competitive behavior,” forcing them to allow users to download apps from third parties. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would allow federal antitrust agencies to issue civil penalties to tech giants like Amazon and Google for unfairly preferencing their own products on their platforms.

The laws were debated in committee but failed to get a floor vote due to disagreements about the content.

There has also been a push for additional privacy rules, such as the Kids Online Safety Act, which would require social media companies to verify a user’s age if they are 18 or younger.

Several of these bills are expected to be reconsidered in 2023, although it remains unclear how successful they will be due to a split Congress.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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