White House unveils principles for Big Tech reform

The White House is pictured from the West Wing Driveway in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

WASHINGTON, Sept 8 (Reuters) - The White House on Thursday outlined six principles to reform Big Tech platforms and said it was encouraged to see bipartisan interest in Congress to rein in major U.S. tech companies.

The six principles, entitled "Enhancing Competition and Tech Platform Accountability," were released after Biden administration officials earlier in the day met with experts to discuss "the harms that tech platforms cause and the need for greater accountability."

The White House said the United States needs "clear rules of the road to ensure small and mid-size businesses and entrepreneurs can compete on a level playing field."

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"These principles are the culmination of months of work by the administration and engagement with numerous stakeholders," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. "We're looking forward to hearing any feedback from the tech companies."

A group of bipartisan lawmakers has introduced antitrust legislation aimed at reining in the four tech giants -- Meta Platform's (META.O) Facebook, Apple (AAPL.O), Alphabet's (GOOGL.O) Google and Amazon.com (AMZN.O) -- that would bar the companies from favoring their own businesses in search results and other ways. The lawmakers have said they believe they have the 60 Senate votes needed to move forward, but no vote has yet been scheduled.

Among issues discussed at Thursday's meeting, which included numerous senior White House officials, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine and technology experts, were antitrust, privacy, algorithmic discrimination and other tech policy areas, the White House said.

The six principles include promoting technology sector competition; adopting robust federal privacy protections, and tougher privacy and online protections for children; rescinding special legal protections for large tech platforms; increasing transparency about platforms' algorithms and content moderation decisions; and ending discriminatory algorithmic decision-making.

"The rise of tech platforms has introduced new and difficult challenges," the White House said, "from the tragic acts of violence linked to toxic online cultures, to deteriorating mental health and wellbeing, to basic rights of Americans and communities worldwide suffering from the rise of tech platforms big and small."

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Reporting by Diane Bartz, Nandita Bose and David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler

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