President Joe Biden on Wednesday called for new laws that would affect online media, including new limits on the collection and use of data about consumers.
“We need serious federal protections for Americans’ privacy,” he wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “That means clear limits on how companies can collect, use and share highly personal data -- your internet history, your personal communications, your location, and your health, genetic and biometric data.”
“Much of that data shouldn’t be collected in the first place,” he added.
Biden also specifically called for restrictions on targeted advertising, and a total ban on targeted advertising for children.
The comments come as the Federal Trade Commission is in the early stages of crafting privacy rules that could result in new restrictions on data collection and use.
Last year, federal lawmakers proposed the bipartisan American Data Privacy and Protection Act, which would have prohibited companies from collecting or processing data about individuals' online activity across sites and over time -- effectively banning a form of behavioral targeting.
Ad-industry groups opposed the measure, arguing that it would harm the “data-driven economy by prohibiting the collection and use of basic demographic and online activity data for efficient, responsible advertising.”
The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced the bill, but the Senate never held hearings on it.
Biden also wrote that he supports revising Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects tech companies from lawsuits over material posted by users, and wants more transparency about the algorithms tech companies use.
Even without new legislation, tech companies' protections under Section 230 could be curbed this year by the Supreme Court, which is slated to hear two cases centered on tech companies' liability for user-created content.
Those matters deal with lawsuits brought by terrorist victims' family members against tech companies.
The Biden administration sided against Google in one of those cases, arguing that Section 230 doesn't protect Google for making targeted recommendations of terrorism-related videos.
But the administration sided with the tech companies in the other case, arguing that the mere failure to take down material posted by terrorists doesn't amount to aiding and abetting terrorism.