The next big tech hearing will take place on October 28, 2020 as the Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of Facebook, Twitter, and Google have agreed to voluntarily testify before a United States (US) Senate Committee.
The US Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing on Thursday (October 1, 2020) unanimously approved authorizations through voice votes to issue subpoenas “to compel the testimony of Jack Dorsey, Chief Executive Officer, Twitter; Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alphabet Inc., Google; and Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer, Facebook.”
CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter subpoenaed by US Senate Committee Twitter on Saturday announced that Dorsey had voluntarily agreed to virtually testify 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,” the company said in an official tweet.
According to a report by Politico, Zuckerberg and Pichai have also agreed to testify on October 28. Hence, the committee will not issue the subpoenas.
The hearing will focus on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Social media giants in the past have been accused of leveraging Section 230 to silence conservative viewpoints. The discussions were escalated when Twitter flagged US President Donald Trump’s tweet for “glorifying violence.” Since then, multiple tweets by the President have been flagged with labels such as "manipulated media" in addition to fact-checking labels.
The companies have denied allegations of political bias on multiple occasions.
“We’ve made our views clear on reactionary and politicized attempts to erode #Section230. They threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms. The reasoned and productive debate is essential,” said Twitter.
“Alleged ‘political bias’ remains an unsubstantiated allegation that we have refuted on many occasions to Congress. It has also been widely disproven by independent research,” it added.
“Technology companies argue that their broad liability shield should remain in place,” said the US Senator Roger Wicker had said on Thursday. “However, they disproportionately suppress and censor conservative views online. Public testimony from these CEOs is critical as the Committee considers several proposals to reform the Communications Decency Act.”
The legal proceedings moving forward are also likely to focus on the legal protection enjoyed by the tech companies along with their role in limiting misinformation and ensuring privacy.