House E&C Leaders Seek Meetings About Suicide Website

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Architect of the Capitol)

Another day, another online content issue that has legislators alarmed and ready to grill Big Tech.

In this case it is an online site that provides information on how to commit suicide and support for those who are contemplating or have decided to take their own lives.

The New York Times earlier this month reported on the site and 45 people whose deaths could be linked to it. The story pointed out that web content providers continue to have immunity from liability for third-party content, the Sec. 230 issue that has been in the forefront of Washington legislator's concerns about hate speech, discrimination, political advertising manipulation and much more.

In response Monday (Dec. 20), the bipartisan leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee said they have called for briefings from executives with search engines, web hosting companies, content delivery networks, and social media platforms.

Also: Surgeon General: Big Tech Has Role in Youth Mental Health Challenges

"It is imperative that companies take the threat of such sites seriously and take appropriate steps to mitigate harm," they said in a joint statement.

Joining that statement were Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Health Subcommittee chair Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chair Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Ranking Member Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Communications Subcommittee chairman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Ranking Member Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee chair Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Ranking Member Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.). ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.