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The Biden transition team and what it means for the tech world?

Joe Biden has made all the right noises so far. Apart from the big welcome news about his promise to rejoin the Paris Climate agreement, the choice of his transition team members shows a careful approach. The transition team has a wide representation from prominent tech companies, including Amazon, LinkedIn, Lyft, Salesforce, Stripe and Uber among others. Also helping the President-elect to hit the ground running after his formal inauguration are policy experts from non-profits from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Schmidt Ventures (led by Google’s ex-CEO Eric Schmidt). 

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What is particularly encouraging is the diverse background of people and the number of women on the transition team. For example, Biden’s 12-member panel to draw up plans for the Environmental Protection Agency includes Dell CTO Ann Dunkin, who had earlier worked as the EPA’s chief information officer under Barack Obama. The NASA transition team is led by a woman – Ellen Stofan, who had earlier served as NASA’s chief scientist from 2013 to 2016. Five of the eight-member NASA review team are women. Further Nicole Isaac, who is part of the review team for the Treasury Department, works with LinkedIn on public policy and government engagement.

ALSO READ: Five women, two former NASA chief scientists on Biden’s NASA transition team

That the Federal Trade Commission includes Bill Baer, one of the most recognized antitrust enforcers in the world, hints that anti-competition enforcement could continue to be a significant focus area for the new administration too. That’s bad news for Google, which is facing the biggest anti-trust lawsuit filed against it by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and eleven state attorneys general, since the 1998 suit against Microsoft. And not just antitrust, under Biden, the administration could actually look to restrain Big Tech, who, critics say, have become too powerful. Recent tweets from Bill Russo, deputy communications director of the Biden campaign, had been severely critical of Facebook and how its inability to deal with disinformation is “shredding the fabric of our democracy”. That’s very, very bad news for Facebook given that it is already facing Federal Trade Commission investigations, and a case is expected to be filed by the yearend. With federal investigators also looking into Amazon and Apple, it would be interesting to watch how the tech and policy landscape pans out in the next few years. 

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