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Joe Biden goes after Big Video Game again, wants Section 230 revoked

Former Vice President and current Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden is taking some very personal shots at the games industry in his recent New York Times interview.

As part of a series of interviews with each of the candidates for the 2020 Democratic nominee, conducted by the New York Times, Joe Biden was asked about the growth of the tech industry and Silicon Valley. In response, the former Vice President recalled meeting with game developers who he described as “creeps,” “righteous,” “arrogant,” and whose games “teach people how to kill.”

“[Y]ou 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. 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…”

violent video games

This isn’t the first time Joe Biden has waded into discussions about connections between video games and real-life violence. In a 2013 Google Hangout, Biden said that while “there’s no hard data” to make a connection between “excessively violent video games” and anti-social behaviour, “including using guns,” the entertainment industry “shouldn’t be afraid of the facts.” You know, the facts there is no hard data on.

Back to the NYT interview. Biden wasn’t finished with his criticisms of the developers he met with:

“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.”

silly biden

Now, I may not be an economist or have an MBA, but I’m not sure comparing the total workforce of a handful of video game developers and tech companies to the total LAYOFFS of a major car manufacturer is the best metric to say the former aren’t jobs creators.

Also, someone should tell Biden that esports alone became a billion-dollar industry last year.

Revoking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

anti-gamer move

The reason Biden was meeting with these developers was to work out an agreement dealing with protecting intellectual property for artists in the United States:

“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.”

Biden is referring changes to § 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects platforms from being held responsible for the content generated by its users. Biden wants those protections repealed.

“The idea that it’s a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms,” Biden said. “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. [I]t’s a responsibility of the 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.”

If Section 230 is revoked, not only would sites like Twitter and Facebook be civilly liable for any content posted on its site, platforms like Steam could be held responsible the next time some ghoul tries to sell a school-shooter game.

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Stuart Benson

I'm an Ottawa based journalist with interest in esports and gaming in general, as well as pop culture and politics. Come find me on PSN or Twitter @LeftHandStu if you want to play some Apex or call me a Boomer for saying FPS's peaked with Halo 2.
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