The top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee issued an early warning to the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter at a congressional hearing Wednesday, saying that it’s time to end the industry’s “free pass” to “control, stifle and even censor content” from users however they see fit.
Delivering opening remarks at a highly-anticipated hearing on the tech industry’s prized legal liability protections, Senate Commerce Chair Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) railed against the tech companies over allegations they are biased against conservatives. And he raised the specter of weakening those protections, afforded under a 1996 law known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That law shields online companies from lawsuits for hosting and policing user posts.
“This liability shield has been pivotal in protecting online platforms from endless and potentially ruinous lawsuits,” Wicker said. “But it has also given these internet platforms the ability to control, stifle, and even censor content in whatever manner meets their respective standards. The time has come for that free pass to end.”
Wicker, whose panel threatened to issue subpoenas to the CEOs if they did not testify before the committee, took particular issue with Facebook and Twitter for limiting the distribution of disputed New York Post articles alleging direct ties between Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business interests.