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 Wicker (R-Miss.) had threatened to subpoena Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai last week but was required to hold a vote after ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell (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.
The 1996 law, which has come under increased scrutiny since President Trump 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.
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 Bezos.
The panel is set to release a report on the issue as early as next week.