What will a Biden Presidency mean for the UK tech sector?

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Written by Russ Shaw, Founder, Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates

After a much closer race than originally predicted, a Biden Presidency is looking increasingly likely and will largely be met with positivity by the global tech sector. His approach to digital policy seems much more actively geared towards partnering with private industry and other governments to set the technology agenda.

For Big Tech companies, Biden still intends to impose stringent antitrust measures, as well as tough taxation and privacy regulations. However, with his history as the Vice President of a Silicon Valley-friendly Obama Administration – and California-elected Kamala Harris on his ticket – a victory would likely be the outcome of choice compared to Trump’s ongoing allegations of anti-conservative bias from social media giants.

Beyond Silicon Valley, there are hopes that Biden will be more open to a multi-lateral approach on key regulatory issues such as a digital tax. Following the lack of involvement from the Trump Administration with OECD talks on digital tax matters, bringing the US back to the table will help to potentially heal the Transatlantic division caused by the imposition of retaliatory tariffs in response to European countries progressing with a tax impacting US tech firms.

Elsewhere, Biden’s approach to immigration reform suggests he will be more favourable to global tech, particularly given how regularly US tech companies come up against caps limiting the number of overseas employees who can obtain visas. Compared to Trump’s resistance to the H1-B visa route, Biden’s more accommodating stance on temporary and permanent employment immigration policies are a clear positive for the tech industry.

Following the ongoing US Trade War and strained relationships between the Trump Administration and the Chinese Government, there are hopes that Biden’s more collaborative approach could ease some of these tensions. However, US restrictions on the likes of Huawei have already had serious implications for network infrastructure around the world. It is likely that Biden will take a more lenient stance on trade tariffs, but will remain cautious when it comes to cybersecurity and IP theft, given the focus of his broader policies on data privacy.

For the UK, a Democratic victory presents something of an unknown when it comes to negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal, particularly on topics such as data flows, although we know that Biden is in favour of GDPR-style privacy regulation. It is likely that this will happen but perhaps not until 2022. Ultimately, the UK and global tech sectors can be hopeful that a Biden victory will bring with it a more collaborative approach to international digital diplomacy, as the Administration looks to rebuild relationships with allies around the world.

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