It looks like we’re in for another big tech CEO hearing.
The Senate Commerce Committee voted Thursday to move forward with subpoenas for Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet. The unusual decision to subpoena the social media chief executives adds yet another politically volatile event to the schedule in the run-up to the most contentious election in modern U.S. history.
The hearing will focus on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the key law that shields online platforms from legal liability for the content their users create.
While the topic might sound dry for the unacquainted, the law is an explosive topic, both politically and in the eyes of the tech industry, which could be left reeling from even what might seem like minor changes to the legal shield.
Committee Chairman Roger Wicker called the decision to hold the hearing “imperative” in order for Americans to “receive a full accounting from the heads of these companies about their content moderation practices.”
Remarkably, the decision to subpoena the CEOs was unanimous, with ranking Democrat Maria Cantwell joining the vote to subpoena the companies after initially opposing the decision.
Cantwell previously called the idea of issuing subpoenas an “extraordinary” step intended to “chill the efforts” of companies to remove misinformation and harassment from their platforms.
Republican members of the Senate Commerce Committee include its Wicker, Ted Cruz, John Thune and Rick Scott. Democrats on the committee include Cantwell, Amy Klobuchar, Brian Schatz, and Kyrsten Sinema.
What’s going on with Section 230?
Section 230 is generally regarded as the legal infrastructure that made the social internet possible, from Facebook accounts and comments sections to Yelp and Amazon reviews. It’s a short law but in 2020 an increasingly controversial one as lawmakers scramble for levers to