Senate committee to question Big Tech CEOs today over online censorship
WASHINGTON D.C, October 28, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A Senate committee hearing will convene this morning in order to investigate the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter, and examine the legal protections covered under Section 230.
The hearing, entitled “Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?” will be held by the “Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation” and chaired by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss).
Among the members of the committee is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex) who lately labelled online censorship as “the single greatest threat to free speech and democracy.”
LifeSiteNews is livestreaming the hearing. You can watch it here, beginning at 10am, Eastern, or above.
One of the purposes of the hearing is to re-examine Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act 1996, and to “increase transparency and accountability among big technology companies for their content moderation practices.” It will also assess the “unintended consequences of Section 230’s liability shield and how best to preserve the internet as a forum for open discourse.”
Witnesses at the hearing will be Jack Dorsey the CEO of Twitter, Sundar Pichai the CEO of Google, and Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook.
The current form of Section 230, removes any liability from websites for content which users post online. Whilst touted as helping free speech to flourish, many now think that it has been manipulated by Big Tech companies, who have set their own standards for what constitutes acceptable speech on their platforms.
In May President Trump signed an executive order on preventing online censorship, following a marked increase in censorship of conservative voices, including the President himself. Somewhat ironically, Twitter censored Trump less than 24 hours after he signed the executive order.
Trump warned that platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube (run by Google), have an “unprecedented” ability to control and alter public life by being able to “to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.”
The President's words were supported by a poll conducted by Pew Research, which found that seventy-two percent of people thought that social media companies had “too much power and influence.”
Last month the Department of Justice (DOJ) proposed legislation to reform Section 230, and in a press release, stated that the current law “enabled online platforms to hide behind the immunity to censor lawful speech in bad faith.”
Only last week, the DOJ filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Google, claiming that Google had abused its position of online dominance to effectively eliminate any competition.
Today’s Senate Committee hearing will no doubt thus seek to cross-examine three of the most powerful Big Tech companies, in light of President Trump’s executive order to “seek transparency and accountability from online platforms.”