House Judiciary Republicans have subpoenaed the chief executive officers of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft for information about their companies’ communications with the executive branch over how their content is moderated.
The move by committee Chairman Jim Jordan is a notable escalation as part of the House GOP’s effort to prove that big tech companies have colluded with the federal government to suppress conservative voices. The House Oversight Committee last week, in a hearing with three former Twitter executives, did not produce conclusive evidence that Twitter temporarily suppressed a New York Post story at the request of government agencies, and the former executives said the government played no role in the decision.
The subpoena letters Jordan sent Wednesday, which are an escalation from the voluntary requests Jordan made in December when House Republicans were in the minority, ask for all requested documents and communications to be handed over by March 23, 2023.
“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,” Jordan writes.
In his December letter, Jordan alleged, “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.”
Jordan on Wednesday wrote to the big tech executives that he is not sending a subpoena to Twitter because it “recently set a benchmark for how transparent Big Tech companies can be about interactions with government over censorship” through its release of the internal communications dubbed the Twitter Files.
A Microsoft spokesman told CNN in a statement that the company is producing documents, is “engaged with the Committee, and committed to working in good faith.” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said the company has “already begun producing documents in response to the committee’s requests and will continue to do so moving forward.”
CNN has also reached out to Amazon, Apple and Alphabet for comment on the subpoenas.
In an effort to rebut the House Oversight Republican criticisms of alleged collusion between Twitter and the federal government, House Oversight Democrats showed that the Trump White House had made requests to Twitter to take down tweets. One of the former Twitter employees testified last week, Anika Collier Navaroli, told the committee that she had heard the White House in 2019 flagged an expletive-laden tweet critical of then-President Donald Trump from model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen for removal.
This story has been updated with additional developments.