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 WickerTop Republican: General told senators he opposed Afghanistan withdrawal NY Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 in latest House breakthrough case Florida Democrat becomes latest breakthrough COVID-19 case in House MORE (R-Miss.) had threatened to subpoena Twitter's Jack Dorsey, Facebook's Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley — Facebook 'too late' curbing climate falsities Facebook draws lawmaker scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens How social media fuels U.S. political polarization — what to do about it MORE and Alphabet's Sundar Pichai last week but was required to hold a vote after ranking member Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDelta variant's spread hampers Labor Day air travel, industry recovery Wyden asks White House for details on jet fuel shortage amid wildfire season Air travel hits pandemic high 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.

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The 1996 law, which has come under increased scrutiny since President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol 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.

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

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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 BezosSpaceX launches first all-civilian orbit crew into space Tucker Carlson says he lies when 'I'm really cornered or something' Feehery: Not this way MORE.

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