By Bryan Jung
A top House Republican is demanding receipts from five Big Tech firms for alleged “collusion” with the Biden administration to censor conservative and other dissenting voices.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the incoming House Judiciary Committee chairman after Republicans seat their majority in the House next month, sent letters on Dec. 14 to the CEOs of big tech companies, demanding documentation relating to their censorship practices and for speculated collusion with the White House.
Currently the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, Jordan demanded information from the tech giants about what he called “the nature and extent of your companies’ collusion with the Biden administration.”
House Republicans have long promised an investigation on Big Tech as part of their “Commitment to America” agenda and have been sounding the alarm for years regarding the industry’s censorship and bias against conservatives.
Jordan will then in his new role be able to subpoena Big Tech executives regarding their censorship practices.
New House Leadership to Investigate Big Tech and Alleged White House Collusion
The congressman wrote and sent letters to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, Alphabeth CEO Sundar Pichai, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as a warning that they will face additional scrutiny.
He opened his letter by stating: “Big Tech is out to get conservatives, and is increasingly willing to undermine First Amendment values by complying with the Biden administration’s directives that suppress freedom of speech online.
“This approach undermines fundamental American principles and allows powerful government actors to silence political opponents and stifle opposing viewpoints. Publicly available information suggests that your companies’ treatment of certain speakers and content may stem from government directives or guidance designed to suppress dissenting views.”
“Therefore, we write to request more information about the nature and extent of your companies’ collusion with the Biden administration,” Jordan demanded.
“The collusion of Big Tech and Big Government to advance censorship undeniably undermines liberty and jeopardizes our country’s First Amendment values and protections,” he added.
The threat of investigation comes after Twitter CEO Elon Musk revealed a series internal company documents, called the “Twitter Files,” which revealed how the media platform suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop story ahead of the 2020 election.
Hunter Biden, the son of the current president, has been under federal investigation for his tax affairs, illicit foreign interests, prostitution scandals, drug use, and money laundering schemes, for years.
Elon Musk released a slew of documents over the past week regarding internal discussions at Twitter on how to handle the New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s laptop during the 2020 election, reported Fox News.
It appears that the social media platform was working closely with Biden’s presidential campaign to censor tweets that the campaign found objectionable.
The new evidence shows that Biden’ s campaign team would send an email with tweets that they wanted removed and would receive a response from Twitter management confirming that it had been handled.
Republican Demands That Tech CEOs Preserve and Hand Over Communications With the Feds
Jordan demanded that the CEOs hand over documents and communications dated back to January 2020 between employees and contractors of the Big Tech firms involved and all who were affiliated with the executive branch in regards to “moderation, deletion, suppression, restricting, or reduced circulation of content.”
He also requested that the tech firms provide a list of every and each individual who were involved in content moderation policies, along with third parties, companies, or consultants involved with that task.
“This list should include but is not limited to any fact-checking entities; the Southern Poverty Law Center; other technology firms or social media platforms; advertisers or potential advertisers; financial services firms or payment processors; proxy advisory firms; and investors or investment firms,” Jordan wrote.
The congressman made it clear that the committee would continue to pursue the investigation into the next congressional year “if necessary” and gave the tech firms a deadline of 5 p.m. on Dec. 29 to comply with his requests.
He also said that the letters serve as “a formal request to preserve all existing and future records and materials relating to the topics” related to the congressional inquiry, including “documents, communications, and other information, including electronic information and metadata.”
Jordan ordered that all electronic messages sent using official and personal accounts or devices, as well as text messages or messages through encryption software apps, must also be provided to the House committee.
Big Tech to Face US Supreme Court Challenges Amid Revived Congressional Scrutiny
Big Tech firms have repeatedly denied claims that they suppress free speech and insisted they enforced community guidelines as set in their official user policies.
Legislative threats against tech censorship have been few and far in between since the Democrats gained control of both houses of Congress in 2018, but with the House in Republican hands in January, things might change sooner.
However, any legislation that would weaken Big Tech’s legal protection for content moderation would be quite difficult to pass, as the Democrats currently control the Senate.
On the other hand, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear a few cases in 2023 that involve the implication of Section 230—the law that protects Big Tech’s status on public speech.