President Biden is taking a strong stance against targeted advertising in his upcoming State of the Union address. He plans to call for strict curbs on the collection of personal data, especially sensitive information such as health and geolocation, and place the burden on companies to minimize the amount of information they collect. In his speech, Biden will urge lawmakers to ban targeted advertising to children and young people and to enact strong protections for their privacy, health, and safety online.

The president’s stance on targeted advertising comes after numerous privacy bills were introduced in the past year, including the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) and the Kids Online Safety Act. The ADPPA, which would have imposed restrictions on data collection and some forms of behavioral advertising, was advanced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a vote of 53-2 but was never voted on by the full House or held hearings in the Senate.

President Biden’s plan to curb targeted advertising data collection has come under fire from those who believe it’s a violation of free speech. David Cohen, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, spoke out against the proposal in a recent speech, stating that it would “destroy our industry” and negatively impact both “Big Tech and Small Tech.”

Critics of Biden’s plan argue that curbing targeted advertising is not the solution to protecting personal data and privacy. Instead, they suggest that tech companies should be held accountable for ensuring the security of their customers’ data.

In a letter sent to lawmakers last year, the libertarian organization TechFreedom and a group of law professors criticized a similar bill, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA), for its broad mandates. They stated that “there is no way to accurately identify what content might exacerbate self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, or substance use disorders,” and that these mandates were both unworkable and unconstitutional.

Additionally, the Kids Online Safety Act, which would have required web companies to act in the best interest of users under the age of 17, faced similar criticism for potentially curbing content protected by free-speech principles.

In his State of the Union address, Biden will also demand transparency from tech companies regarding their algorithms and how they collect Americans’ personal data. The White House says that social media companies often do not enforce their terms of service with respect to minors and that Biden will discuss how his administration plans to address this issue.

Critics of the Kids Online Safety Act argue that it would have been unconstitutional to curb content protected by free-speech principles, such as material related to eating disorders. The libertarian organization TechFreedom and a group of law professors even sent a letter to lawmakers saying that there is no way to accurately identify what content might exacerbate mental health issues or substance use disorders.

President Biden’s call for bipartisanship on tech issues is a notable stance, given the split Congress and the complicated landscape for passing legislation in any domain. However, tech may be a rare area of hope for progress across the aisle. The State of the Union address will be the first time since 2019 that the president and congressional leaders can bring guests and the first time Biden gives the speech before a divided Congress.

What's your opinion?