Biden’s VP running mate is Sen. Kamala Harris. Here’s what she means for tech – CNET


California Sen. Kamala Harris is Biden's VP pick.

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This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET's coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

After months of speculation, Joe Biden has picked California Sen. Kamala Harris to be his vice-presidential running mate in the race for the White House. The choice fulfills a pledge from Biden, the Democrats' presumptive nominee for president, to name a woman to his ticket as he seeks to unseat Donald Trump in the November election.  

The vetting process that led to the choice of Harris had been closely guarded. The announcement comes just days before the Aug. 17 start of the Democratic National Convention, which will take place mostly virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Both major parties have in the past nominated women for the vice presidency. Democrat Geraldine Ferraro and Republican Sarah Palin ran for the job but lost. If Biden wins the presidency, Harris will become the first female US vice president. Biden's pick of Harris is also historic, because she's the first Black woman and the first Asian American to join a national political ticket for president in the states. 

Biden's choice could be significant in other ways. If he wins, Biden would take office at 78, making him the oldest president in US history and setting up his vice president as the party's potential successor if he doesn't seek a second term. (Trump was elected in 2016 at age 70, making him the oldest person so far elected US president.) 

In a statement, Biden called Harris "a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country's finest public servants." In a tweet, he referenced her close relationship with his late son Beau Biden, who'd served as Delaware's attorney general. "I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse," he said.

In a tweet of her own, Harris said Biden "can unify the American people because he's spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he'll build an America that lives up to our ideals." She said she'd "do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief."

Former President Barack Obama also tweeted his support for Harris joining Biden on the ticket, saying Harris "is more than prepared for the job. She's spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake."

Technology issues, including net neutralityrural broadband and online privacy, made headlines early in the primary season. The political focus, however, has shifted to battling COVID-19, which has killed more than 160,000 in the US and almost 700,000 worldwide. Still, the health care crisis has created related tech issues, with the rapid adoption of telemedicine and virtual learning in education, both of which have shone light on concerns about who does and doesn't have access to the internet

Though tech policy isn't likely to determine the outcome of the election, the next four years could see notable changes in the industry, influenced by the Oval Office. Democrats and Republicans have questioned the influence of big social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and both parties have displayed a willingness to take on Silicon Valley.

In congressional hearings in July, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook and Alphabet's Sundar Pichai were grilled about allegedly monopolistic practices. The Trump administration has also used Chinese-owned tech companies, including TikTok and Huawei, in its broader approach toward dealing with China. 

Biden, who served for eight years as vice president under Obama, has expressed concern about the outsized power and influence of Big Tech. He's suggested that some legal safeguards may need to be amended, such as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which spells out protections for online platforms. 

Here's what we know about Harris' stance on tech issues: 

A California senator and former candidate in the 2020 presidential race, Harris made her name in Washington by grilling Trump nominees and officials from her seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Harris, 55, is known for being a tough-on-crime prosecutor earlier in her career. That toughness, however, didn't carry over to Big Tech companies when she was California attorney general, critics charge. During her time as the state's top law enforcement officer, Facebook and other companies gobbled up smaller competitors. Harris, like regulators under Obama, did little from an antitrust perspective to slow consolidation, which many members of Congress now question. 

During her 2020 presidential bid, Harris' stance on consumer protections and antitrust issues weren't as tough as those of some of her rivals, especially Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who called for the breakup of large tech companies, like Facebook and Google.

Still, Harris was vocal last year in urging Twitter to ban Trump from the platform for "tweets [that] incite violence, threaten witnesses, and obstruct justice." This was a demand Twitter rejected. She has also been critical of Facebook for not doing more to rid its platform of misinformation.  

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