Senate Judiciary Subpoenas Big Tech Execs

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The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously Thursday (Oct. 22) to issue subpoenas to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

The two are already scheduled to testify at a hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee next week on Sec. 230 but Judiciary wants to do its own delving into the issue of online content moderation, according to that Committee's chairman, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Related: Big Tech Bigwigs to Testify Before Senate Commerce

Initially, Graham had signaled only a subpoena to Dorsey--Twitter has been particularly in the spotlight for flagging some of President Trump's tweets as misleading or potentially inciting violence, then more recently for its blocking of New York Post stories about Hunter Biden--but Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) asked that Zuckerberg be included.

The vote's unanimity was all on the Republican side, however, because the Democrats had boycotted the business meeting due to the item preceding the subpoena vote--on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

But Graham said he was proceeding with the subpoena vote anyway since he understood that some of the Democrats also wanted to hear from the execs. He said it would "hopefully give us some leverage to secure their testimony." Unlike Commerce, Judiciary witnesses are sworn in before they testify similar to a trial.

On news of the Vote, House Republicans, who don't control the gavel, again urged the Democratic leadership of the Energy & Commerce Committee to force Big Tech CEOs to testify on that side of the Capitol.

“Once again, we call on Chairman Pallone to join with us to protect the integrity of our elections and stop the censorship of political speech," said ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Communications Subcommittee ranking member Bob Latta (R-Ohio), and Consumer Protection Subcommittee ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). "It’s long past time for the Energy and Commerce Committee to compel the testimony of the CEOs of the powerful tech platforms."

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.