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Biden calls for net neutrality restoration

Executive order "encourages" US regulators to bring back overturned rules, limit data collection, protect right to repair

US President Joe Biden on Friday issued an executive order on "promoting competition in the American economy" that touched on a number of issues directly relevant to the games industry, among them net neutrality.

Net neutrality -- which prohibits internet service providers from blocking, throttling, or prioritizing traffic -- was introduced in the US in 2015 under the Obama administration but overturned two years later by the Federal Communications Commission under the Trump administration.

Biden's order called for the chair of the FCC to consider "adopting through appropriate rulemaking 'Net Neutrality' rules similar to those previously adopted."

The new executive order also sees Biden calling for a limit on early termination fees for broadband customers, as well as a ban on internet service providers making deals with landlords to limit tenants' ability to go with rival companies.

The order also addresses the Federal Trade Commission, with Biden asking for new rules on user surveillance and data accumulation, as well as anticompetitive tactics by tech companies to freeze out independent repair shops or prevent end users from making DIY repairs of their own equipment. (Specifically, Biden wanted to address companies that restrict the distribution of replacement parts or necessary diagnostic and repair tools.)

In the above cases, the White House only said that Biden "encourages" the chairs of the FTC and FCC to work with the rest of their commissioners to consider taking these actions.

As for matters more directly under the president's control, the order also announced a general administration policy to scrutinize tech mergers and acquisitions more closely.

"It is also the policy of my Administration to enforce the antitrust laws to meet the challenges posed by new industries and technologies, including the rise of the dominant internet platforms," Biden said, "especially as they stem from serial mergers, the acquisition of nascent competitors, the aggregation of data, unfair competition in attention markets, the surveillance of users, and the presence of network effects."

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