Senate Panel to Vote on Subpoenas for Google, Facebook, Twitter CEO’s Next Week

Google Empty Chair at Senate
AP/Jose Luis Magana

The Senate Commerce Committee plans to vote on October 1 to decide if it should subpoena the CEOs of tech firms including Google, Facebook, and Twitter over their censorship and legal immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).

Politico reports that the Senate Commerce Committee plans to vote on October 1 whether to subpoena CEOs from Facebook, Google, and Twitter after Democrats shut down efforts to bring the CEOs in to testify that day for a hearing on the tech industry’s liability protections.

Republicans are aiming to secure testimony from the CEOs for a hearing about whether Silicon Valley tech giants receive undeserved legal protection from consumer lawsuits related to how the companies police millions of posts on their platforms. Democrats have reportedly claimed that this is a political ploy from Republicans ahead of the upcoming presidential election.

According to an internal email obtained by Politico, Senate Commerce Chair Roger Wicker (R-MS) asked the executives to come in on October 1 on a voluntary basis but was ready to issue subpoenas Thursday if necessary. A top staffer for Wicker emailed staff on Wednesday that invitations have been sent to the CEOs and “unless we receive a very prompt affirmative response, we will be issuing the subpoenas.”

The panel’s staff director, John Keast, claimed that Wicker had notified ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) of his plans to issue subpoenas “to compel the attendance” of Google’s Sundar Pichai, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. Cantwell reportedly objected, claiming that forcing the CEOs to testify is ill-advised ahead of the November election arguing that it’s a time in which tech platforms’ efforts “to take down patently false information and hate speech not only need to be supported, but greatly improved in scope and effectiveness.”

Cantwell said in a statement: “Taking the extraordinary step of issuing subpoenas is an attempt to chill the efforts of these companies to remove lies, harassment, and intimidation from their platforms. I am happy to work with my colleagues to hold further substantive, bipartisan hearings on how platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter need to improve.” Cantwell added: “But I will not participate in an attempt to use the committee’s serious subpoena power for a partisan effort 40 days before an election.”

Wicker will now have a full committee vote on October 1 on whether to compel the testimony of Zuckerberg, Dorsey, and Pichai. President Trump reportedly gathered Republican state attorneys general on Wednesday to discuss ways to crack down on tech companies over perceived bias against conservatives.

Read more at Politico here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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