Oct 2, 2020 - Technology

Tech CEOs back for more Hill testimony right before election

Illustration of a person testifying at a desk with an angry face emoji

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The CEOs of Twitter, Google and Facebook will testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on October 28, six days before Election Day, a committee aide confirmed to Axios.

Driving the news: On Thursday, the committee authorized subpoenas for Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Sundar Pichai and Twitter's Jack Dorsey. By Friday evening, the companies and the committee worked out a date, first reported by Politico.

Between the lines: All three companies offered to testify the week of November 16, after the election, and the committee insisted on an earlier date before the election, a source familiar with the situation told Axios.

Details: The hearing is expected to focus on efforts to modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the law that protects tech platforms from liability for user-contributed content.

  • Republicans want to make the liability shield contingent on changes in what they charge is anti-conservative bias by the companies, while Democrats hope to pressure them to tighten user privacy and change what they see as monopolistic practices.

What they're saying: Twitter confirmed CEO Jack Dorsey would be testifying before the committee on October 28.

  • ."@jack has voluntarily agreed to testify virtually before the @SenateCommerce Committee 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."

Our thought bubble: Squeezing this hearing in before the election gives it a political spin and could damage bipartisan efforts to revise Section 230 by making it tougher for the parties to find common ground.

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