House Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) issued subpoenas to Big Tech executives on Wednesday over the GOP’s concerns about censorship practices and restrictions being placed on free speech.
Jordan announced the move on Twitter, saying, “We just subpoenaed Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple regarding Big Tech’s reported collusion with the federal government. Step one towards accountability.”
We just subpoenaed Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple regarding Big Tech’s reported collusion with the federal government.
Step one towards accountability.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) February 15, 2023
A statement issued by the committee said, “Today, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) subpoenaed the chief executive officers of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft for documents and communications relating to the federal government’s reported collusion with Big Tech to suppress free speech.”
“The House Judiciary Committee has repeatedly attempted to engage with the five companies since last December,” the statement continued. “Unfortunately, the companies have not adequately complied with our requests.”
In the statement, the committee also stressed the importance of “protecting and advancing fundamental free speech principles,” and “examining how private actors coordinate with the government to suppress First Amendment-protected speech. These subpoenas are the first step in holding Big Tech accountable.”
The executives subpoenaed by Jordan were Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The Big Tech leaders were asked to “turn over all requested documents and communications by March 23, 2023.”
In letters to the CEOs, Jordan said, “To develop effective legislation, such as the possible enactment of new statutory limits on the executive branch’s ability to work with big tech to restrict the circulation of content and deplatform users, the Committee on the Judiciary must first understand how and to what extent the executive branch coerced and colluded with companies and other intermediaries to censor speech.”
“To this end, we have asked for communications between [your company] and the Executive Branch, internal [company] communications discussing communications from the Executive Branch, and [company] communications with third parties that may have been working with the Executive Branch, in addition to other key information,” Jordan said.
In his letters to the company executives, Jordan also commends Twitter CEO Elon Musk for making drastic censorship changes to ensure freedom of speech is upheld on his social media platform.
“Twitter recently set a benchmark for how transparent Big Tech companies can be about interactions with government over censorship,” wrote Jordan. “The Twitter Files have exposed how Big Tech and the federal government have worked hand in hand in ways that undermine First Amendment principles.”
In response to this subpoena, a Microsoft spokesperson said that the company has “started producing documents, is engaged with the committee, and committed to working in good faith.”
Meta similarly responded, saying, “We have already begun producing documents in response to the committee’s request and will continue to do so moving forward.”