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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A Biden presidency would put the tech industry on stabler ground than it's had with President Trump. Although Biden is unlikely to rein in those Democrats who are itching to regulate the big platforms, he'll almost certainly have other, bigger priorities.

The big picture: Liberal Silicon Valley remains one of Democrats' most reliable sources for big-money donations. But a Biden win offers no guarantee that tech will be able to renew the cozy relationship it had with the Obama White House.

Where it stands: Democrats familiar with the Biden campaign's work on tech made these predictions...

1. Any early tech policy initiatives will be wrapped up in crisis response.

  • As part of a newly elected Biden administration's efforts to reverse the coronavirus epidemic's ravages, look for an early push to close the "digital divide" between connected Americans and those who can't afford or otherwise access high-speed internet — a lifeline for the shelter-in-place era.
  • That will likely involve efforts to increase broadband subsidy funding, restore Obama-era net neutrality rules and enable cities and rural co-ops to stand up public broadband networks — all priorities outlined in a "unity" agenda from Biden and primary rival Bernie Sanders last month.

2. Don't expect an aggressive tech policy agenda.

  • Several people who spoke with Axios described a constellation of Obama administration tech policy veterans advising the campaign.
  • But absent from the group are either left-flank bomb throwers eager to crack down on tech or big-name Silicon Valley types eager to do the opposite. And there's little indication the establishment players who are there instead are ready to trot out an expansive tech platform, as Hillary Clinton had done by June 2016.
  • That's also strategic: Tech policy today is fraught with politically charged issues around privacy and bias, misinformation, claims of censorship, antitrust issues and more. Democrats see little reason for Biden to wade into these issues during a campaign built on letting Trump sink himself.

3. Once in office, Biden would take cues from the party, even if it means getting more aggressive on tech.

  • Angered by the proliferation of misinformation on Facebook, Biden already said he wants to end online platforms' immunity from liability over material their users post.
  • Observers are split on how serious he is or whether it's still a priority. While there's bipartisan interest in revisiting the issue, changing the law requires an act of Congress.
  • Still, Biden's call signaled a willingness to go hard on tech, and mainstream Democrats are already there. Just last week, House Democrats excoriated the leaders of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple in an antitrust hearing.

4. One person to watch: Mignon Clyburn.

  • The Obama administration veteran is the only Black woman to ever run the Federal Communications Commission, during a roughly six-month stint as acting chair in 2013.
  • She also has a strong relationship with many in the Biden campaign orbit and is the daughter of South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, a close Biden ally widely credited with helping Biden secure the Democratic nomination.
  • Observers say she'd land a choice job in a Biden administration and is favored to be his FCC chair unless she turns it down. (Clyburn declined to comment for this story.)

The bottom line: If Biden wins, the tech industry can probably breathe a sigh of relief in his first 100 days.

  • There won't be late-night tweet storms to contend with.
  • Employees and leaders will be happier on issues like immigration and LGBTQ rights.
  • But the industry will still face an administration shaped by a Democratic establishment that's increasingly hostile to them.

Go deeper

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As Trump fights the transition in D.C., the world moves on to Biden

"Next." Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

Governments around the world are preparing to work with President-elect Biden — but they still have to navigate what could be a bumpy final 10 weeks of President Trump.

Split screen: Around the time Biden was holding his first call as president-elect with a foreign leader, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump was firing his secretary of defense, Mark Esper.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 23, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Biden looks to stem oil "transition" furor amid GOP attacks

Former Vice President Joe Biden. ANGELA WEISS / Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign is looking to blunt attacks in response to his comments in Thursday night's debate about a "transition from the oil industry," as Republicans look to make the remarks a liability in the closing days of the race.

Driving the news: Biden campaign spokesperson Bill Russo, in comments circulated to reporters Friday afternoon, said the former VP "would not get rid of fossil fuels," but wants to end subsidies.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The intra-left flashpoints over climate and energy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Environmentalists are all psyched that Joe Biden beat Donald Trump, but tensions on the left could soon come to the surface as Biden starts implementing his energy agenda.

Why it matters: Democrats and the wider left are in the midst of a public reckoning with how progressive the party's stances and message should be.