Here's where the Democratic candidates stand on tech issues

The Democratic candidates have included net neutrality, rural broadband, online privacy and other technology issues in their platforms.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Andrew Morse Former executive editor
Andrew Morse is a veteran reporter and editor. Before joining CNET, he worked at The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Bloomberg, among other publications.
Richard Nieva
Marguerite Reardon
Andrew Morse
3 min read

The Democratic presidential candidates have made tech issues a major part of their platforms.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

It's a two-man fight between former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. On Tuesday, we'll get more insight into the contest to take on President Donald Trump in November's general election as three states -- Arizona, Florida and Illinois -- hold primary votes.

The primaries have been overshadowed by the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. On Sunday, Biden and Sanders debated without an audience. And Ohio, which was supposed to vote in current round of primaries, pushed the contest back until June.  Georgia and Louisiana have also delayed primaries, though November's general election cannot be postponed.

Technology is a key part of all the campaign platforms, which feature proposals on net neutrality, rural broadband and online privacy. To help you keep track of the candidates' positions, as well as the Trump administration's stances, CNET has put together the following election cheat sheet. 


President Donald Trump has been sympathetic to breaking up tech companies, but not because of antitrust concerns. Instead, the president has expressed concern that big tech companies discriminate against conservative voices. 

Joe Biden: Says that the industry needs more regulation and that some companies might need to be broken up.

Bernie Sanders: Believes tech companies have too much power, and has said he would "absolutely" look to break up Facebook, Google and Amazon.

Watch this: Microsoft wants to make voting machines safer from hackers. (The Daily Charge, 2/18/2020)

Online privacy

The Trump administration has met with big tech companies and trade groups to discuss privacy protection. It hasn't, however, indicated potential approaches to the issue.

Biden: The former vice president hasn't said much about data privacy on the 2020 campaign trail. But some people have expressed concern about Biden's record on other privacy issues, including the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which requires telecoms and device makers to help law enforcement surveil traffic on their services and devices.

Sanders: Says company executives should be "prosecuted if there is evidence of negligence" in cases of consumer privacy breaches.

Rural broadband

The White House worked with the Federal Communications Commission on the Rural Digital Opportunity program, which reallocates $20.4 billion in funding to subsidize broadband infrastructure in underserved areas. Trump has also included high-speed internet access as part of a $2 trillion infrastructure plan.  

Biden: Has proposed spending $20 billion to expand rural broadband

Sanders: Has proposed High-Speed Internet for All, which would include $150 billion in infrastructure grants and which would require ISPs to provide a low-cost basic plan.  

Net neutrality

The FCC, under Chairman Ajit Pai, in 2017 ordered the repeal of net neutrality. The move eliminated rules preventing broadband providers from blocking or slowing access to websites or charging companies extra to deliver content faster. After a federal court upheld the repeal last year, Trump called the decision a "great win."

Biden: Hasn't stated support for net neutrality regulation as a presidential candidate. When Biden was a senator, he never co-sponsored or supported net neutrality legislation. He's cozy with Comcast executives, who have lobbied against strict net neutrality regulations. Comcast senior vice president David Cohen hosted Biden's first fundraiser after he announced his bid for president. 

Sanders: Has long supported net neutrality, calling the 2017 repeal of the FCC's Obama-era net neutrality rules "an egregious attack on our democracy." He advocates reinstating the FCC's net neutrality regulations, including classifying broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. 

China and tariffs

Trump has used tariffs -- taxes paid by importers on goods arriving from foreign countries -- to pressure the Chinese government on broader trade issues. Two rounds of tariffs, including a 15% tariff on products like phones, laptops and tablets, have gone into effect. Another round was avoided in a "phase one" trade deal. 

On the campaign trail, the candidates have been particularly tightlipped and vague about their views on China. 

Biden: Says Trump's negotiations have hurt American farmers and manufacturers. He says the US needs "new rules" and "new processes" to dictate trade relationships with foreign countries.

Sanders: Says he "strongly supports" tariffs against China but argues "Trump gets it wrong in terms of implementation."

This story is updated as the presidential race proceeds.