The Biden administration is "deeply aligned" with the European Union when it comes to cracking down on big tech, the European Commission's Margrethe Vestager has said. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


US Government ‘deeply aligned’ with EU on Big Tech crackdown, says Vestager


The administration of US President Joe Biden is “deeply aligned” with the European Union when it comes to cracking down on Big Tech, said European Commission Vice-President for the digital age Margrethe Vestager.

Addressing the Institute for Advanced Study — an independent research organisation at Princeton University — on April 9, Vestager praised the Democrat Government, comparing its work to recent EU legislative clampdowns.

She cited a joint statement by the EU and US as showing how close both powers had become regarding tech regulation before encouraging the US to take further action to reel in social media excess.

“Last week at the Trade and Technology Council, we adopted a statement that shows how deeply aligned Europe and the US have become on recognising the harms that platforms may do and, of course, their responsibility to address them,” she said.

“I am aware of the challenges of passing legislation in this country. But why should one accept that these platforms have to protect minors in Europe but not here?

“Why should one accept that European researchers can access data from these platforms, but not other researchers?”

Vestager praised the US for its recently announced plans to implement federal-level online privacy laws, expressing confusion as to why they took so long to come about.

“I’ve always thought that it was really sort of off-brand that the United States were not the first to have strong privacy legislation for online activities because you’re so much about the individual,” she said, linking such laws to “the American dream”.

“The American dream is about the individual succeeding. The right to carry a gun, which I don’t understand, is about the individual.

“So many things here are about the individual and yet there’s no protection of privacy online,” Vestager said.

Her address at the event sponsored by an “anonymous donor” came amid controversy regarding the Biden administration’s approach to EU tech regulation.

While US lawmakers have expressed concern regarding European efforts to regulate US-based social media outlets, the White House appears to be less concerned by the new rules.

One document jointly published by Brussels and the US Government recently even encourages US researchers to use the reforms brought about by the EU’s Digital Services Act to extract data from American tech companies.

The shift in policy has been recognised by the EC, with Vestager noting how the US has gone from being hostile to EU tech crackdowns to now being seemingly supportive of them.

“Three years ago … I had to constantly contend with unfounded criticism that this was all about targeting big American tech firms,” she said, adding that the White House’s growing alignment with EU tech policy had changed that.

Areas of tension remain, with Vestager once again citing what have been seen as protectionist elements of the US Inflation Reduction Act as somewhat troubling for the EU.

Yet these concerns also appear to have faded over the past few years, with Vestager now describing the legislation as representing an “enormous step for the US” in the fight against climate change.

“Of course, there have been a number of irritants. But that should not overshadow the fact that this is really, really, important legislation for ‘green’ tech not only to be developed but also to be deployed in the US,” she said.