Andrew Yang Takes Aim At Big Tech In New Policy Proposal

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang speaks during the 2020 Gun Safety Forum hosted by gun control activist groups Giffords and March for Our Lives at Enclave on October 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang released a new technology proposal that takes aim at the big technology companies and highlights the significant impact such businesses have on American “culture, lifestyles, families, and politics.” Although the 44-year-old serial entrepreneur does not believe that breaking up big tech companies like Google is the way to go — a break from fellow candidate Elizabeth Warren — he does believe that such companies have “amassed too much power.”

One of the most significant portions of his plan is establishing data as a property right. He claims that data is currently worth more than oil and points to the vast amount of money that technology companies gain using data generated by phones, computers, browsers and websites.

“As of now, that data is owned by the people who collect it, and they’re allowed to do anything they want with it,” his policy page reads, suggesting that personal data extraction is “America’s fastest growing industry” and will be worth $197.7 billion by 2022.

Yang proposed making every individual’s data personal property by passing a “Digital Bill of Rights.” The proposal aims to provide each individual with various rights needed to both use and protect their data. Examples include the right to be informed when data is being used and collected, the right to opt-out of data collection or sharing and the right to be notified if ownership of data changes hands.

The proposal also states that anyone who opts to share their data will receive a portion of the economic value generated from such data. Individuals who waive their rights would earn a “slice of every digital ad” that uses their data via a proposed value-added tax (VAT) on digital advertising — a proposal that might push platforms like Facebook to a paid subscription business model.

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“A digital ads tax would revolutionize the tech industry in ways it hasn’t been forced to address so far,” The Verge writes.

Elsewhere in Yang’s policy, he proposes a new government body called the “Department of the Attention Economy.” This department would offer guidelines for companies that design social media, smartphones, gaming and chat apps. According to Yang’s policy, some of these guidelines would be age-based, such as removing infinite scrolling for children under 16.

“As the parent of two young children, I’m deeply concerned about technology and how it affects our kids,” Yang’s page reads, adding that regulations must be created to adequately “get ahead” of the rapid pace of technological development.