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Ben Scott


Executive director, Reset

RULEBREAKER No. 6

For a soft-spoken academic-turned-policy-wonk, Ben Scott knows how to pack a punch. The former Hillary Clinton aide — whose memories of how Russia influenced the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election run deep — has made it his mission to make sure something like that never happens again. After helping to track misinformation during the 2017 German federal election and subsequent votes on both sides of the Atlantic, in 2020 the American created Reset, an anti-tech lobbying group, with the support of deep-pocketed backers like Pierre Omidyar, the eBay founder, and the U.S.-based Sandler Foundation.

Scott is not wasting any time. With advisers spread across European capitals, Washington and Canberra, his goal is to provide well-funded counterpoints to Big Tech lobbying. That has focused on urging policymakers to pass wide-reaching online content rules, as well as starting to use Europe’s tough privacy regulation to force watchdogs to take a tougher look at how social media companies use people’s data for their own profit. “The concentration of power that a few companies now have on a global level is unprecedented in human history,” he told POLITICO. “People are pissed off.”

Scott’s policymaking connections run deep. When Frances Haugen, a Facebook whistleblower, toured Europe last year, Reset set up scores of meetings for her with everyone from Priti Patel, the British home secretary, to Thierry Breton, the European internal markets commissioner. Reset continues to fund research across the EU, particularly around national elections, to highlight the need for further checks on social media giants.

What to watch out for this year: Scott is expected to turn to Europe’s privacy rules to force regulators to compel limits on how tech companies collect people’s personal information for online targeting.

What’s their superpower: Providing an alternative perspective to policymakers eager for ways to impose new rules on some of the world’s largest tech firms.

Influence score: 17/30

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