This morning, the Senate Commerce committee voted to issue subpoenas to Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Sundar Pichai of Google and Jack Dorsey of Twitter, to testify in front of the committee. This is all in regards to Section 230, which the president has been talking a lot about lately.
Facebook, Google and Twitter are affected directly by Section 230. The “Good Samaritan” moderation that gets legal protection under Section 230, which basically states that these companies are not liable for what people post on their networks. Which is something President Trump wants to change, and make these tech giants responsible.
The vote was unanimous
Senator Ted Cruz told the committee today that “it should speak volumes that every member of our committee just voted to issue these subpoenas”. Meaning that this is not a partisan issue, as the Democrats are also on-board here.
Senator Cruz also believes that big tech “poses the single greatest threat to free speech in our day, and the single greatest threat to democracy in our day.”
There have been a number of bills regarding tech regulation be taken up during this congressional session, and have ultimately stalled. Senator Amy Klobuchar is frustrated over those failures. And is upset with how little legislation has resulted from the hearings of the past few years. Hearings that, mind you, were prime-time television. Klobuchar stated that she does not “want us to be the Senate of all words and no action.” But that’s exactly what it has come to.
So what happens next?
The subpoenas are issues to all three CEOs, and they will be required to testify in front of the committee. The date for that hearing has not yet been established. But given the recent events, this will likely be over Zoom as well.
In July, we had the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google testify in front of Congress – Twitter opted not to come – over a few other issues. But the main issue was antitrust. Now, some of those same companies are going to be coming back, to testify about Section 230, and content moderation.
It’s unlikely that anything will result from this hearing though. As we’ve seen with recent hearings that involve tech CEOs, the Senate is mostly confused on how the company operates. Like when Zuckerberg was asked how Facebook makes money. Fingers crossed that the Senate actually does their homework this time around. But that is still unlikely.