Congress grills tech CEOs: Key moments from the Senate hearing

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Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) speaks during a media availability. | Alex Brandon/ AP Photo

Live Updates: Tech CEO Senate Hearing

“What is happening here is a disgrace,” Sen. Brian Schatz plans to say, foregoing questions in what he considers a sham hearing.

10/28/2020 09:37 AM EDT

A top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee plans to plead with the CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter to “stand up to this immoral behavior” of the Republicans for hauling them in for Wednesday’s hearing on alleged censorship so soon before the Nov. 3 election.

“What is happening here is a disgrace,” Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, the top Democrat on the telecom subcommittee, will say, according to prepared remarks. “It is a scar on the Committee, and it is a scar on the United States Senate.”

“What we are seeing today is United States senators attempting to bully the CEOs of private companies into carrying out a hit job on a presidential candidate by making sure they push out foreign and domestic misinformation meant to influence the election,” he will add.

The Democratic lawmaker will forgo asking tech CEOs questions given what he calls a “disgrace” and “sham” of a proceeding.

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In this Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives for a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.

In this Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives for a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. | AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

Technology

Wednesday’s hearing comes as lawmakers examine a 1996 statute known as Section 230.

Three of Silicon Valley’s most influential chief executives find themselves at odds as lawmakers weigh measures to curb Silicon Valley’s liability protections.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is calling on Congress to “update” a crucial legal shield for the online industry, while Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey says lawmakers should show “restraint” in changing the rules, according to the executives’ written testimony for a Senate Commerce Committee hearing Wednesday, obtained by POLITICO on Tuesday. Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who’s also scheduled to testify, likewise encouraged caution.

The remarks show fresh daylight between three of the tech industry’s most recognizable leaders on a liability law that politicians of both parties want to pare back or revoke — efforts that Silicon Valley’s lobbying groups have mostly opposed.

Tech CEOs in the hot seat: Wednesday’s hearing comes as lawmakers examine a 1996 statute known as Section 230, which shields online companies from lawsuits for hosting, taking down or otherwise moderating user content.

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