Biden’s SOTU: Data Privacy Is Now a Must-Hit US State of the Union Topic

Those of the European Union The General Data Protection Regulation, which came into effect in 2018, offers far from perfect data protection, but stands in stark contrast to the legal deficiency in the United States, which lacks comprehensive federal data protection laws. However, in his second State of the Union address tonight, US President Joe Biden paid more attention than ever to the need for such action.

With political control of the US Congress now divided, Biden claimed that a privacy law could attract bipartisan support. It’s an idea that’s gained traction in recent years, and Biden’s mention of privacy issues in his State of the Union sets a precedent that the issue should be of real concern to US presidents and the public.

“We need to finally hold social media companies accountable for their experiments [on] Kids for profit,” Biden said during his speech, to a standing ovation from members of both parties. “It’s time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop Big Tech from collecting personal information about our children and teens online. Ban ads targeted to children and set stricter limits on the personal information companies collect about all of us.”

Previous US presidents rarely mentioned data protection in the state of the Union. Former President Donald Trump did not mention the issue in any of his annual addresses. Former President Barack Obama raised the issue only once during the 2014 State of the Union, following revelations about the previously undisclosed extent and scope of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs. He then said, “In cooperation with this Congress, I will reform our surveillance programs – because the vital work of our intelligence agencies depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that the privacy of ordinary people will not be violated.”

In his first State of the Union in 2022, Biden spoke about privacy in relation to protecting children. “It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban advertising targeted at children, and demand that tech companies stop collecting personal information about our children,” he said at the time.

Biden’s comments tonight went further, signaling a shift in mainstream understanding of the urgency of improving privacy protections in the US. However, it is less clear whether the step will result in productive action in 2023. In his remarks, Biden called for cooperation among lawmakers — a dynamic that both houses on Capitol Hill lack. “To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there’s no reason we can’t work together in this Congress and find consensus on important things,” he said.

All across the US political spectrum would probably agree that the previous Congress was not exactly a shining example of a well-functioning, cooperative legislature. By including a mention of privacy in the State of the Union, Biden is putting additional pressure on his administration and lawmakers to solve an issue that affects everyone. Biden’s SOTU: Data Privacy Is Now a Must-Hit US State of the Union Topic

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