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Photo: Graeme Jennings/Pool via Getty Images

The Senate Commerce Committee has voted to authorize subpoenas compelling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to testify before the panel.

Why it matters: The tech giants are yet again facing a potential grilling on Capitol Hill sometime before the end of the year, at a time when tech is being used as a punching bag from both the left and right.

Yes, but: The subpoenas will only be issued if the executives refuse to come voluntarily. The Commerce panel will first be reaching out to the companies to try to schedule a hearing, a committee aide told Axios.

Context: With Republicans centering their tech criticisms around claims that digital platforms stack the deck against conservatives, Democrats were expected to boycott today's subpoena vote. They did not.

  • Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said she was supporting the subpoena authorization after committee chair Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) agreed to add the topics of privacy and "media domination" to the list of topics to ask tech executives about.

Be smart: Partisan lines remain. Democrats supported the subpoena, but they urged Congress not to create a "chilling effect" on tech to remove misinformation from their platforms and dismissed the allegations of anti-conservative bias. They also pushed for votes on their own bills on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which immunizes platforms from liability for material their users post.

What they're saying: "This feels like an attempt to work the refs five weeks out from the election," said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). When conservatives bring up claims of bias, "that's when this conversation goes off a cliff," he said.

What's next: If the companies resist a voluntarily hearing, the subpoenas will have to actually be sent to the executives and a hearing date will have to be set.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include new information from the committee on the prospect of arranging a voluntary hearing.

Go deeper

Social media platforms muzzle Trump after Capitol melee

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all took their strongest actions yet to block President Trump after his messages egged on misinformation-fueled mobs storming the Capitol Wednesday.

Yes, but: Many critics say the social media companies bear some responsibility for the day's chaos for not reining in Trump sooner and harder — and the brief suspensions fell short of calls for the networks to permanently ban Trump's account for repeated rule violations.

The rebellion against Silicon Valley (the place)

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

Silicon Valley may be a "state of mind," but it's also very much a real enclave in Northern California. Now, a growing faction of the tech industry is boycotting it.

Why it matters: The Bay Area is facing for the first time the prospect of losing its crown as the top destination for tech workers and startups — which could have an economic impact on the region and force it to reckon with its local issues.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Telework's tax mess

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As teleworkers flit from city to city, they're creating a huge tax mess.

Why it matters: Our tax laws aren't built for telecommuting, and this new way of working could have dire implications for city and state budgets.