In a socially distanced ceremony at a Delaware highschool this week, presidential hopeful Joe Biden launched Senator Kamala Harris as his working mate within the 2020 election. Like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Biden’s own campaign staff, Harris has an extended relationship with Silicon Valley that features fundraisers and soliciting recommendation from tech leaders and workers. Her rise in political prominence within the San Francisco Bay Area coincides with the exponential development of the tech trade and main corporations that decision California house — together with Apple, Facebook, and Google.
As legal professional basic of California and as a U.S. Senator for the state, Harris has performed a job in figuring out what constitutes on-line crime, defining on-line privateness, hammering out parameters for the main app shops, and supporting the prosecution of revenge porn or on-line sexual harassment. She is somebody who has each threatened authorized motion in opposition to tech corporations and referred to them as “family.”
While this isn’t supposed as a complete listing, we wished to look again at some key moments in Kamala Harris’ historical past with Silicon Valley.
Kamala Harris runs for Attorney General of California in opposition to a former Facebook govt
After two phrases as district legal professional of San Francisco, Harris ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010. One of her primary opponents within the Democratic main was former Facebook chief privateness officer and high lawyer Chris Kelly.
Kelly funded his marketing campaign with hundreds of thousands from his private fortune, and Harris publicly questioned whether or not electing the former Facebook executive would be like getting a fox to guard a henhouse. “If Kelly couldn’t stand up to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on behalf of Facebook users, how on Earth can Californians trust Kelly to go to bat on their behalf as attorney general?” she requested.
Kelly appeared to toughen his stance on Facebook privacy issues, becoming a member of MoveOn in urging Facebook to solely share info accepted by customers. But with days to go within the main, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg could have helped tilt the scale in Harris’ favor, in response to the San Francisco Chronicle, by indicating that he may attend an occasion to make requires the Harris marketing campaign. In the top, Harris received the election and Kelly got here in second, in response to Ballotpedia.
Harris speaks at Google headquarters forward of California Attorney General election
Weeks earlier than the 2010 basic election, Harris visited Google headquarters in Mountain View for an hour-long dialog with firm workers led by then Google chief authorized counsel David Drummond. She talked about having “a certain bravado about being a California kid” and the way the California legal professional basic needs to be a go-to individual for anybody dealing with circumstances in opposition to tech corporations within the nation.
She made it clear in her remarks that she didn’t wish to stand in the way in which of innovation.
It’s instructive to listen to Harris share her ideas on how tech could make authorities extra environment friendly and to be reminded that antitrust competitors regulation conversations have been taking place at Google a decade in the past.
“This is what I meant earlier about my pride about being in California, where you know this is a short drive to come here. This is [my] backyard — we’re family — so California AGs should be a leader on these issues,” she mentioned.
In that very same assembly, she mentioned her view of taking antitrust actions in opposition to the massive corporations. This was lengthy earlier than the U.S. Justice Department, Congress, and attorneys basic from nearly each state within the U.S. filed antitrust investigations into Google, though European Union officers filed three antitrust circumstances in opposition to Google in November 2010.
In the context of antitrust regulation, she talked about tech being important to California’s economic system. It’s price noting that Harris was working whereas the state was within the midst of a serious budgetary disaster. In order to handle this financial crunch, she mentioned, “We’re going to have to recognize we cannot stand in the way of business growth and development and that we don’t have to accept false choices. That doesn’t have to be to the exclusion of helping consumers. It doesn’t have to be at the exclusion of going after bad businesses because bad business is not good for good business.”
Harris points predictive policing MOU
During her first yr as legal professional basic, Harris signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) giving the Los Angeles Police Department entry to information for predictive policing. The use of data-driven approaches in decision-making is on the coronary heart of Harris’ focus in her e book Smart on Crime. But since then, predictive policing programs deployed in cities like Los Angeles and New Orleans with assist from corporations like Palantir have been accused of demonstrating racial bias or use of racially biased information.
While AI capabilities and the sheer quantity of accessible information have grown dramatically since 2011, Harris’ historical past as a prosecutor and on points like predictive policing could return within the run-up to the election. Those points is also central to ongoing discussions round racial justice reform and calls to defund the police.
Harris strikes privateness coverage cope with main tech corporations
In a really completely different sort of deal, in 2012 Harris brokered an settlement between six of the most important tech corporations with app shops on the time: Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Amazon, Microsoft, and Research in Motion. Terms of the deal included corporations designating an space for builders and companies to share their privateness insurance policies. The deal was reached partly to convey companies according to the California Online Privacy Protection Act, a regulation that required industrial companies working on-line to submit a privateness coverage. This settlement was reached at a time when a number of corporations — together with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter — have been discovered to be hoovering up consumer info, like deal with e book contacts, generally with out permission.
“Your personal privacy should not be the cost of using mobile apps, but all too often it is,” Harris mentioned on the time.
App market regulation remains to be a difficulty immediately. Apple’s App Store dominance was a central matter of debate in antitrust hearings in Congress final month and made headlines final week when Epic Games filed a lawsuit after being kicked out of Apple and Google’s app shops for iOS and Android, respectively.
Harris speaks at Facebook headquarters
About a month after the launch of her U.S. Senate marketing campaign, Harris spoke at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California alongside COO Sheryl Sandberg as a part of the Safer Internet Day convention. Harris and Sandberg spoke with kids about online harassment and methods to fight cyberbullying. The occasion itself wasn’t a political earthquake, nevertheless it produced memorable visuals of Harris and Sandberg collectively within the days earlier than Cambridge Analytica, election interference, and boycotts in opposition to the corporate’s willingness to revenue from hate.
Also in February 2015, Harris held a meeting with victims of online harassment and representatives from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter to speak about curbing on-line harassment and abuse. Meeting transcripts have been stored confidential, however a report famous Harris’ view that what some confer with as “revenge porn” is a type of “cyber exploitation” and that the shortage of consent separates it from consensual pornography.
Shortly after the assembly, many main platforms started taking steps to limit the sharing of specific content material with out consent, and Harris launched a public marketing campaign and useful resource for cyber exploitation victims with input on tips on how to deal with situations of cyber exploitation on Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Backpage.com prosecution and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
Weeks earlier than the 2016 basic election, as Harris campaigned to symbolize California within the U.S. Senate, Harris filed charges in opposition to Backpage founder Carl Ferrer for pimping, pimping a minor, and conspiracy to commit pimping. He was arrested in Houston, Texas and extradited to California to face fees. It was a part of a continued effort by Harris to handle how on-line platforms support in human trafficking. Like many different companies together with large tech corporations, Ferrer claimed protection from prosecution under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which offers some legal responsibility safety to the creators of an interactive laptop service.
The case was thrown out shortly after the election. Ferrer was convicted of different fees in 2018, however requires reform of Section 230 for main tech corporations got here lengthy earlier than Harris charged Backpage and are prone to persist in 2020 and past.
Harris, Uber, and the gig economic system
Shortly earlier than leaving her place as legal professional basic, in December 2016 Harris ordered Uber to take its self-driving cars off the streets of San Francisco over security considerations and acknowledged that she would search a courtroom order to power compliance if want be. Harris’ brother-in-law Tony West is chief legal counsel at Uber and served as a cochair of the Harris 2016 U.S. Senate transition workforce and as an advisor to Harris when she was district legal professional.
More not too long ago, lawmakers have fielded calls for for gig economic system corporations like Uber to deal with employees as workers or contractors, which might confer labor protections and worker advantages. In 2019, California lawmakers supplied supporters a preliminary victory within the type of Bill AB 5, which Harris supports. This week, a California choose ordered Uber and Lyft to start complying with AB 5, although the businesses have challenged the measure. Proposition 22 will put the ultimate determination to California voters in November. If Prop 22 passes, requires comparable laws could develop in Washington, D.C.
Harris questions Mark Zuckerberg about Cambridge Analytica
In the weeks after a number of information shops reported that the information of 87 million Facebook customers was misused by Cambridge Analytica, in 2018 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg got here to Congress to debate information privateness. As a part of a listening to, Harris requested Zuckerberg why Facebook management selected to not inform its customers when the information got here to gentle in December 2015.
“In retrospect that was a mistake, and knowing what we know now we should’ve handled a lot of things differently,” Zuckerberg mentioned.
In addition to drawing consideration for her questions for Zuckerberg, Harris additionally garnered a popularity for her direct questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh.
National AI technique laws
As a U.S. senator, in 2018 Harris cosponsored laws to spearhead the event of a nationwide AI technique. The AI in Government Act sought to offer a framework for bringing extra AI experience into authorities and urged federal companies to actively take away obstacles to incorporating AI. While the laws didn’t cross, members of Congress and the Pentagon have known as the formation of a coherent nationwide AI technique crucial to sustaining financial and navy dominance.
While Harris helps the mixing of AI in authorities, she has a historical past of opposing the algorithmic bias plaguing many AI programs immediately. In 2018, she joined a gaggle of U.S. Senators who questioned the FBI, FTC, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about use of facial recognition expertise. Harris additionally joined colleagues in Congress in calling for a overview of facial recognition use in federal housing in 2019.
Big Tech antitrust
In quite a few interviews throughout her bid for the presidential nomination, Harris hesitated to say that tech giants needs to be damaged up. Speaking with the New York Times, she mentioned her first precedence if elected could be to make sure American customers really feel their privateness is just not compromised. In an early 2019 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Harris mentioned breaking apart Facebook is one thing that needs to be fastidiously thought-about, and that the corporate had turn into in impact an unregulated utility. She didn’t select to go so far as Elizabeth Warren, whose stance on breaking apart tech giants turned a cornerstone of her presidential marketing campaign platform.
Harris was additionally legal professional basic when Facebook acquired Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014, respectively — acquisitions which have come up within the ongoing Congressional antitrust investigation.
A take a look at Kamala Harris’ report demonstrates that lengthy earlier than she turned a nationally distinguished politician or vice presidential candidate, Harris performed an influential function in shaping tech coverage over the previous decade. She could very nicely be one of the crucial tech-savvy candidates to grace a presidential ticket thus far.
If Biden and Harris are elected, the administration is prone to face a spread of tech-related challenges — from the expansion of 5G and tech nationalism to the proliferation of synthetic intelligence and cybersecurity.
Like the deal Joe Biden struck with Barack Obama earlier than agreeing to be his working mate, Biden not too long ago mentioned he needs Kamala Harris to be the final individual within the room when there’s a tricky determination to make. If elected, on the subject of powerful selections associated to tech, Kamala Harris may have a substantial quantity of affect on a spread of tech coverage points sooner or later.