By David Shepardson and Nandita Rose | Reuters
WASHINGTON – The chief executives of Facebook <FB.O, Twitter and Alphabet-owned Google have agreed to voluntarily testify at a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee on Oct. 28 about a key law protecting internet companies.
Facebook and Twitter confirmed on Friday that their CEOs, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, respectively, will appear, while a source said that Google’s Sundar Pichai will appear. That came a day after the committee unanimously voted to approve a plan to subpoena the three CEOs to appear before the panel.
Twitter’s Dorsey tweeted on Friday that the hearing “must be constructive & focused on what matters most to the American people: how we work together to protect elections.”
The CEOs are to appear virtually.
In addition to discussions on reforming the law called Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects internet companies from liability over content posted by users, the hearing will bring up issues about consumer privacy and media consolidation.
Republican President Donald Trump has made holding tech companies accountable for allegedly stifling conservative voices a theme of his administration. As a result, calls for a reform of Section 230 have been intensifying ahead of the Nov. 3 elections, but there is little chance of approval by Congress this year.
Last week Trump met with nine Republican state attorneys general to discuss the fate of Section 230 after the Justice Department unveiled a legislative proposal aimed at reforming the law.
The chief executives of Google, Facebook, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc recently testified before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel. The panel, which is investigating how the companies’ practices hurt rivals, is expected to release its report as early as next Monday.