Senior employees of Big Tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, Amazon etcetera are going to get important positions in White House and other federal agencies, which, according to critics, will give the companies access to decision-makers, including the president, potentially conflating the policies of the large companies and the government. The influx also may influence other policies, including anti-trust actions and the future of Section 230 legal protections. Moreover, being partners in Biden’s administration, these senior employees of Big Tech companies may divulge secret information on the users – mostly political opponents of Joe Biden and his Democratic Party. Political opponents, using various communication apps such as WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram etcetera may witness their communications ending into the hands of intelligence agencies. This is another huge chaotic situation most possibly Americans and international community are going to face, similar to that of National Security Agency (NSA)’s intercepting people’s communication.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, whose reporting on whistleblower Edward Snowden’s 2013 mass surveillance revelations won a Pulitzer Prize, tweeted, “History moves quickly. The 9/11 attack was 20 years ago. That means nobody under 35, maybe 40, has a real political memory of it. Liberals begging corporations to censor ‘extremist’ speech. Emotions exploited to demand quick new anti-terrorism laws & powers? The same dynamic.”
The American Civil Liberties Union’s senior legislative counsel Kate Ruane said, “We understand the desire to permanently suspend [Trump] now, but it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions — especially when political realities make those decisions easier.”
Journalist Michael Tracey, a past supporter of socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, wrote, “The new corporate authoritarian liberal-left monoculture is going to be absolutely ruthless — and in 12 days it is merging with the state. This [is] only the beginning… The real ‘threat’ at this point is crazed oligarchs + politicians using the ‘crisis’ to consolidate power.”
He added: “Notice that the threat of ‘violence’ Twitter says justifies their political purge never applies to traditional forms of state violence — Trump’s tweets announcing bombings or assassinations were never seen as necessitating some disciplinary intervention in the name of ‘safety’.”
One of the most powerful figures in the White House later this month will be Jessica Hertz, a former Facebook lawyer who will serve as Biden’s White House staff secretary, vetting correspondence, regulations and appointments that will reach his desk.
Emily Horne, who will broker the White House National Security Council’s communications with the media, worked at Twitter from 2017 to 2018, according to her LinkedIn profile. The NSC has a large staff anchored on White House grounds, and significantly influences administration policy on defense and foreign affairs.
A fleet of other Big Tech vets are helping review appointments for Biden’s transition office and may follow him into office after January 20.
Mark Schwartz from Amazon Web Services is helping vet appointments to the White House Office of Management and Budget, which controls spending policy across the federal bureaucracy.
Google global program manager Deon Scott is reviewing applicants to the Department of Homeland Security, Facebook strategic response aide Zaid Zaid is on the Biden vetting team for State Department jobs, Facebook associate general counsel Christopher Upperman is working on the Small Business Administration, and Facebook director of strategic response Rachel Lieber is vetting spy agency staff.
Amazon international tax director Tom Sullivan is vetting State Department appointments and Cynthia Hogan, who led Apple’s lobbying as vice president for public policy and government affairs, previously helped with Biden’s VP selection vetting.
In DC, a widely accepted axiom says “Personnel is policy,” and civil libertarians are expressing concern after the companies censored Trump and his allies.
But skeptics fear potential government-sanctioned censorship and surveillance akin to the post-9/11 Patriot Act, which federal authorities secretly interpreted as allowing for the dragnet collection of domestic call records.
Big Tech aides pouring into the Biden White House and federal agencies will give the companies access to decision-makers, including the president, potentially conflating the policies of the large companies and the government. The influx also could influence other policies, including anti-trust actions and the future of Section 230 legal protections.
What after January 20?
Once Joe Biden takes oath as the president, his team will start function. It is well anticipated that Biden administration may in some cases be compelled to obey the whimsical demands of the tech giants, who have played significant role in his favor.