Former US vice president Joe Biden has harsh words for the video game and tech industries.
In an interview with the New York Times, the presidential hopeful called game developers he met with during his time at the White House "creeps," "righteous," and "arrogant," referring to his personal experiences with high-ranking executives in Silicon Valley.
"And you may recall, the criticism I got for meeting with the leaders in Silicon Valley, when I was trying to work out an agreement dealing with them protecting intellectual property for artists in the United States of America," said Biden. "And at one point, one of the little creeps sitting around that table, who was a multi- — close to a billionaire — who told me he was an artist because he was able to come up with games to teach you how to kill people, you know the ——"
"Like video games," offers the New York Times interviewer. Biden has previously called for certain legal restrictions to be imposed on violent games, suggesting in 2013 that there is no legal objective to imposing a tax on violent media. He has also stated that while no definitive proof exists linking violent games and media with acts of real violence, the public shouldn’t be afraid of “facts” which may come from research on the matter.
"Yeah, video games. And I was lectured by one of the senior leaders there that by saying if I insisted on what Leahy’d put together and we were, I thought we were going to fully support, that they would blow up the network, figuratively speaking. Have everybody contact. They get out and go out and contact the switchboard, just blow it up.
"And then one of these righteous people said to me that, you know, “We are the economic engine of America. We are the ones.” And fortunately I had done a little homework before I went and I said, you know, I find it fascinating. As I added up the seven outfits, everyone’s there but Microsoft. I said, you have fewer people on your payroll than all the losses that General Motors just faced in the last quarter, of employees. So don’t lecture me about how you’ve created all this employment.
"The point is, there’s an arrogance about it, an overwhelming arrogance that we are, we are the ones. We can do what we want to do. I disagree."
The exemption that Biden is referring to is known as § 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Loosely speaking, the aim of this policy is to help platform owners avoid being blamed for the content generated by its users. Or, in legalese: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."
Biden isn't simply calling for reforms of the provision, he is seeking to abolish it entirely. "The fact is, in every other revolution that we’ve had technologically, it’s taken somewhere between six years and a generation for a government to come in and level the playing field again," Biden explains. "All of a sudden, remember the Luddites smashing the machinery in the Midlands? That was their answer when the culture was changing. Same thing with television. Same thing before that with radio. Same thing, but this is gigantic. And it’s a responsibility of government to make sure it is not abused. Not abused. And so this is one of those areas where I think it’s being abused. "