Lawmakers hammer Apple, Google for sitting out COPPA hearing

Lawmakers on the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday hammered Google and Apple for declining an invitation to testify on possible changes to children's online privacy rules.

While Microsoft and Facebook did agree to testify at this week's discussion about changes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the two other tech giants informed the committee earlier this week they would not.

Their absence ultimately led Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) to rail on the two companies for their absence and later brandish his power of congressional subpoena.

"I appreciate the fact that Microsoft and Facebook are here. I also do not appreciate that Apple and Google are not here, and I'm curious as to why they're not," Rockefeller said, noting their absence raised concerns about the companies' behavior. "Was it too expensive to send an associate legal counsel?"

"I have this power of a subpoena that I would absolutely love to use," the senator continued. "I have not at this point. but all [the companies' absence] does is increase our interest what they're doing and why they didn't show up... so shame on them."

Both Google and Apple did not immediately return e-mails for comment on Thursday.