President Biden’s State of the Union address delivered to Congress on Tuesday night featured a number of references to technology topics that touch Federal government operations and major tech-driven policy initiatives. Among them are:
Tech Regulation – “It’s time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect on all of us,” President Biden said.
“We must finally hold social media companies accountable for the experiment they are running on our children for profit,” he said.
In a separate statement related to the speech’s contents, the White House talked about the need to “strengthen data privacy and platform transparency for all Americans.”
“Big Tech companies collect huge amounts of data on the things we buy, the websites we visit, and the places we go,” the White House said.
“There should be clear and strict limits on the ability to collect, use, transfer, and maintain our personal data, especially for sensitive data such as geolocation and health information, and the burden must fall on companies – not consumers – to minimize how much information they collect.”
“We must also demand transparency about the algorithms companies use that far too often discriminate against Americans and sow division,” the White House said, pointing to the AI Bill of Rights that the administration unveiled late last year.
Pandemic Fraud – President Biden also talked about boosting the Federal government’s efforts to combat fraud in government relief programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has run as high as $60 billion in state unemployment insurance programs, and $5 billion in relief programs administered by the Small Business Administration.
“We’re also doubling down on prosecuting criminals who stole relief money meant to keep workers and small businesses afloat during the pandemic,” the president said.
“Before I came to office many inspector generals who protect taxpayer dollars were sidelined,” he said. “Fraud was rampant.”
“Last year, I told you the watchdogs are back,” he said. “Since then, we’ve recovered billions of taxpayer dollars.”
“Now, let’s triple our anti-fraud strike forces going after these criminals, double the statute of limitations on these crimes, and crack down on identity fraud by criminal syndicates stealing billions of dollars from the American people,” the president said.
On other topics, President Biden also extolled the impact of the Chips and Science Act to stimulate domestic investments in semiconductor manufacturing, and on Federal programs that are investing more than $60 billion in broadband expansion programs.
Veterans Health, Telehealth – “We cannot go on losing 17 veterans a day to the silent scourge of suicide,” the president declared during the speech.
“The VA [the Department of Veterans Affairs] is doing everything it can, including expanding mental health screenings and a proven program that recruits veterans to help other veterans understand what they’re going through and get the help they need.”
In a separate statement issued late Tuesday in connection with the speech, the White House placed emphasis on plans to expand telehealth services, saying that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “will triple resources dedicated to promoting interstate license reciprocity for delivery of mental health services across state lines.”
“VA will launch a new nationwide network of behavioral health clinicians to ensure timely access to evidence-based mental health services to veterans enrolled in VA health care,” the White House said.