SPONSORED:

Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech executives

The Senate Commerce Committee voted Thursday to subpoena the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Alphabet, Google's parent company.

Committee Chairman Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerSenators vet Buttigieg to run Transportation Department Wall Street Journal: GOP Electoral College 'stunt' will hurt US, Republican Party Bipartisan group of senators: The election is over MORE (R-Miss.) had threatened to subpoena Twitter's Jack Dorsey, Facebook's Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Biden names acting chairs to lead FCC, FTC | Facebook to extend Trump ban pending review | Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler Facebook to extend Trump ban pending review Facebook has no current plan to end the Trump suspension MORE and Alphabet's Sundar Pichai last week but was required to hold a vote after ranking member Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenators vet Buttigieg to run Transportation Department Hillicon Valley: Texas, other states bring antitrust lawsuit against Google | Krebs emphasizes security of the election as senators butt heads | Twitter cracks down on coronavirus vaccine misinformation Senators press federal agencies for more information on Russian cyberattack MORE (D-Wash.) opposed the plan.

The unanimous vote will compel the CEOs to appear for a hearing on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is considered the bedrock of the modern internet.

ADVERTISEMENT

The 1996 law, which has come under increased scrutiny since President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE targeted it in an executive order in May, gives internet companies immunity from lawsuits for content posted on their sites by third parties and allows them to make "good faith" efforts to moderate content.

Wicker made it clear during Thursday’s executive business meeting that the hearing is required because of allegations of anti-conservative bias on their platforms.

Conservative voices actually dominate many platforms on social media including Facebook, the most powerful of them all.

But that hasn't stopped Republicans from persistently making the allegation about bias, which the tech companies have also vociferously denied.

Cantwell ultimately agreed to vote for the subpoena after changes by Wicker, allowing privacy and misinformation to be discussed alongside the supposed bias.

ADVERTISEMENT

A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment on the subpoena vote.

Spokespeople for Twitter and Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the vote.

If they ultimately appear, this will be the second major hearing of the year with some of tech's biggest executives.

The House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust this summer held a hearing on competition in digital marketplaces featuring Zuckerberg, Pichai, Apple's Tim Cook and Amazon's Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosAmazon suspends Parler from web hosting service World's richest people added .8T to their combined wealth in 2020 Amazon delivered more than 1.5 billion items over holiday season MORE.

The panel is set to release a report on the issue as early as next week.