House Republicans Seek Own Big Tech Hearing

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With the Republican-controlled Senate Commerce Committee scheduled to hold hearings with the CEOs of Big Tech giants, House Republicans want the Democrat-controlled Energy & Commerce Committee to do the same.

On Oct. 28, Senate Commerce is holding one of those Big Tech hearings whose title gives away the plot: “Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?"

In a letter to the Democratic leaders of the House E&C, ranking Republicans called for their own version of a rip to the Hill woodshed for Big Tech over Section 230.

That is the law that gives edge providers immunity from civil liability over most of the third party content posted on their platforms.

In a letter to House E&C chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), the committee Republicans "demanded" a hearing, saying their letter came "as these tech giants continue to selectively and inconsistently censor content during a major election cycle, resembling publishers rather than neutral public forums."

Democrats have issues with Big Tech, too, over things like privacy and security and potential anticompetitive effects of their size and power, but they argue the conservative censorship accusation is off base and historically have not wanted to give it any oxygen.

"Under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the courts have broadly interpreted the liability protection afforded to interactive computers services to apply to all content moderation actions taken by social media platforms. Section 230 was enacted nearly 25 years ago, before the Internet was the economic driver it has become today, and more importantly, before these social media companies existed, let alone before they became integral in disseminating information to the public in a selective manner without oversight or accountability," the Republicans wrote. "These companies must be accountable for their actions and that begins with oversight by Congress, on behalf of the American people."

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.