Yang unveils '21st century approach' to regulating tech

Yang unveils '21st century approach' to regulating tech
© Greg Nash

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew YangAndrew YangAndrew Yang's wife, Evelyn Yang, calls for 'big structural change' at 4th annual Women's March DNC announces new criteria for New Hampshire debate Poll: Sanders holds 5-point lead over Buttigieg in New Hampshire MORE is proposing creating a Department of Attention Economy as a tool to help regulate the fast-growing tech industry.

The department is among a number of measures Yang, a tech entrepreneur, is proposing to regulate the industry as part of his tech policy released Thursday.   

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Yang called his plan a “21st century approach” that aims to regulate data use and privacy, minimize the health impacts of modern tech, stop the spread of misinformation and implement modern antitrust and regulatory solutions.

A key component of Yang’s proposal is creating a Department of the Attention Economy that would provide guidelines to companies on how to responsibly design products such as smartphones, social media and gaming apps. 

“As the parent of two young children, I’m deeply concerned about technology and how it affects our kids. We're developing technology rapidly and we need to work together to get ahead when it comes to analyzing how it impacts our everyday lives and creating appropriate regulations,” Yang said in the announcement. 

Yang also proposes passing a “Digital Bill of Rights” that would ensure citizens are the owners of their personal data. 

The ownership would grant Americans the rights to their data, including the right to opt out of data collection or sharing, the right to be told if a website has data on them and what that data is, as well as the right to compensation for use of such data. 

His plan also aims to stop the spread of misinformation, which social media platforms have been accused of allowing to proliferate in recent years. Yang proposes assisting companies in detecting bots and penalizing those that don’t meet “minimum effectiveness thresholds” at regulating the spread of misinformation. 

He also proposes requiring algorithms for platforms that allow political advertisements or shared news stories to be disclosed to his Department of the Attention Economy. 

A modern approach to regulating tech companies and addressing a shifting workforce has been a cornerstone of Yang’s 2020 campaign. He says plans to break up big tech companies, as top-tier White House hopeful Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE (D-Mass.) has proposed, don’t necessarily address the fundamental issues.  

Yang entered the race as a relatively unknown candidate, but has pulled ahead of some of his fellow Democratic opponents. A RealClearPolitics average has Yang at  2.8 percent support, trailing former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE by 23.2 points but still polling ahead of a handful of 2020 Democrats.

He qualified for the November debate next week but has yet to reach the threshold for next month’s primary debate.