A bit too late? Senate committee to grill Google, Facebook & Twitter CEOs on ‘domination & legal liability’ days before election


03-10-20 09:07:00,

The heads of major Big Tech firms have agreed to testify to a Senate panel later this month, where they’ll address legal liability for online platforms, privacy and “media domination” just days before the US election.

The CEOs of Google, Twitter and Facebook are set to testify to the Senate’s Commerce Committee on October 28. The tech bigwigs will speak to lawmakers virtually during the hearing, which is scheduled only 6 days before Americans head to the polls to elect the next president.

While the Commerce Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to authorize subpoenas to force the executives to attend the hearing, they reportedly will not be issued formally, as the CEOs have agreed to testify voluntarily.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, and Google’s Sundar Pichai will each speak at the hearing, the aides said, though so far only Twitter has acknowledged Dorsey’s participation publicly. A Facebook spokesperson told Reuters and CNBC that Zuckerberg would take part, but issued no statement.

.@Jack has voluntarily agreed to testify virtually before the @SenateCommerce Committee on October 28 — less than a week before the US Presidential Election.It must be constructive & focused on what matters most to the American people: how we work together to protect elections

— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) October 2, 2020

The primary subject of concern at the hearing will be a key legal protection enjoyed by tech platforms – Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – which shields companies from liability for what users post.

Republicans have long decried what they see as concerted efforts to censor, ban and generally deplatform conservative voices on social media sites, arguing that companies are acting as “publishers” in their decisions to bar certain types of speech and content. Both Facebook and Twitter insist they do not target any particular viewpoint or ideology, however critics argue the companies often apply their policies against “hate speech” and “disinformation” disproportionately to those on the right.

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