Biden plans to go after social media and kids’ mental health in SOTU speech

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks as he attends the DNC 2023 Winter Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., February 3, 2023. 

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden will take aim at tech companies and discuss data privacy and online safety when he delivers the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night, the White House said.

During the speech, Biden will call for bipartisan support to ban targeted advertising for children and young people online, and he will demand transparency about tech companies’ algorithms and how they collect Americans’ personal data.

Biden will also argue it is the responsibility of companies, not consumers, to minimize the amount of information they collect.

The White House said social media companies often do not enforce their terms of service with respect to minors. Biden will discuss how his administration plans to build on the surgeon general’s youth mental health advisory, the Department of Health and Human Services’ new Center of Excellence on Social Media and Mental Wellness, and the Children and Media Research Advancement Act.

Biden will also call for bipartisan support to impose limits on the personal data that tech companies are able to collect, particularly for sensitive data like health information and geolocation, the White House said.

The president’s stance Tuesday will echo his writing in a January op-ed, where he argued that Congress needs to pass legislation that places new guardrails on the tech industry.

“We need bipartisan action from Congress to hold Big Tech accountable,” Biden wrote.

Biden’s call for bipartisanship on tech issues is notable. The split Congress will complicate the landscape for passing legislation in any domain. Biden’s decision to focus on tech suggests it may be a rare area of hope for progress while working across the aisle.

Tuesday will be the first time since 2019 that the president and congressional leaders are permitted to bring guests to the State of the Union address, which is attended by every member of the House and Senate, all nine Supreme Court Justices, most of the president’s Cabinet and the diplomatic corps. 

It will also be the first time that Biden gives the historic speech before a divided Congress after Republicans clinched control of the U.S. House in November’s midterm elections.

–CNBC’s Lauren Feiner contributed to this report

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