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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 WickerBipartisan group of senators call on Trump to sanction Russia over Navalny poisoning Senate Republicans offer constitutional amendment to block Supreme Court packing Government efforts to 'fix' social media bias overlooks the destruction of our discourse MORE (R-Miss.) had threatened to subpoena Twitter's Jack Dorsey, Facebook's Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Hillicon Valley: Five takeaways on new election interference from Iran, Russia | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs MORE and Alphabet's Sundar Pichai last week but was required to hold a vote after ranking member Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein Hillicon Valley: Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech executives | Amazon says over 19,000 workers tested positive for COVID-19 | Democrats demand DHS release report warning of election interference Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech executives 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 John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' 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.

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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 BezosBlue Origin takes one small step toward being a competitor to SpaceX Democrats question Amazon over reported interference of workers' rights to organize Hillicon Valley: Twitter lacked adequate cybersecurity protection ahead of July hacks, regulator says | Twitter, Facebook clamp down on New York Post article about Hunter Biden | YouTube bans COVID-19 vaccine misinformation MORE.

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