Sen. Cruz: Big Tech Poses the Single Greatest Threat To Our Free Speech & Democracy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the Senate Commerce Committee’s unanimous approval of authorizations to issue subpoenas against Jack Dorsey, Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer of Alphabet Inc., Google, and Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer of Facebook to testify before the committee, I commended my colleagues and outlined the threat Big Tech’s unchecked power poses to free speech and democracy.
Following the committee’s unanimous approval of the subpoenas, I said:
“I commend the committee for acting unanimously to issue these subpoenas. This is a threat that threatens the free speech rights of every American. Right now, Big Tech believes it is totally unaccountable, which is why these CEOs declined the invitation. It’s why a subpoena was necessary. Because they don’t believe they answer to anybody. At the end of the day, they, like each of us, answer to the American people, answer to federal law and answer to the United States Constitution.”
My full remarks may be viewed here and below:
“I want to commend the committee for the votes we just had. Three overwhelming, bipartisan, unanimous votes. That should convey a message. Big Tech, I believe, poses the single greatest threat to free speech in our country today. And poses the single greatest threat to democracy in our day. Now, the concerns about Big Tech on both sides of the aisle are somewhat different. But it should speak volumes that every member of this committee just voted to issue these subpoenas.
“Big Tech are the robber barons of the 21st century. Any other industry that engaged in the brazen abuse of power we see every day from Big Tech, any other industry with wanton disregard for anyone’s rights [that] silenced, shadow banned, demonetized other players, other actors, other speakers – any other industry would face a mountain of lawsuits for their brazen abuse of power and abuse of monopoly power in the market.
“But Big Tech enjoys a special immunity from liability, Section 230, that may well have made sense at the time it was passed, when the Internet was this nascent industry that all of us wanted to see flourish. Well, flourish it has. Section 230 was passed to help these tiny startups with stories that are still etched in yore, of college dropouts in their garages or basements, building a tiny company that will change the world. Well, Big Tech is no longer a college kid in a garage.
“The giants we have just subpoenaed are the Standard Oil of the day. They’re bigger than Standard Oil was – they’re bigger than AT&T was when it was broken up under the antitrust laws. There has never been such an aggregation of power in the history of humankind as Big Tech enjoys today with money and monopoly power and the hubris that comes with the unchecked exercise of power. Who in their right mind would want a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires having total control over who is allowed to speak, when they’re allowed to speak, what they’re allowed to say, and what they’re not allowed to say?
“Even if you happen to agree with them on a particular issue right now, ceding the power to the star chamber of Silicon Valley is profoundly dangerous. John D. Rockefeller would marvel at the economic might that Big Tech employs. William Randolph Hearst would marvel at the total control in communication Big Tech enjoys.
“I commend the committee for acting unanimously to issue these subpoenas. This is a threat that threatens the free speech rights of every American. Right now, Big Tech believes it is totally unaccountable, which is why these CEOs declined the invitation. It’s why a subpoena was necessary. Because they don’t believe they answer to anybody. At the end of the day, they, like each of us, answer to the American people, answer to federal law, and answer to the United States Constitution. Thank you.”
I have long warned that Big Tech censorship is “the single greatest threat to democracy.” As chairman of the Senate Judiciary’s Subcommittee on The Constitution and a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I am working to hold Big Tech accountable to the American people:
- Chaired multiple hearings with representatives from Twitter, Facebook, and Google, where I raised his concerns about the technology companies engaging in a disturbing pattern of political censorship.
- Heard testimony from Dennis Prager of PragerU, whose videos are routinely censored on YouTube, and Dr. Robert Epstein, a psychologist who testified that Google's biased search results swung a minimum of 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
- Sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, urging him to remove language in U.S. trade agreements similar to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides "near -blanket legal immunity" to technology companies.
- Wrote an op-ed in The Hill in response to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's announcement last week banning all political ads from the platform, calling the move "profoundly harmful."
- Sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai raising concerns about Google's latest actions to censor political speech with which it disagrees.
- Called for a criminal investigation into Twitter for blatant and willful violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran.
- Sent two letters – one to Google and one to Facebook – slamming the companies for their separate announcements regarding election advertising.
- Joined Parler, an unbiased social media platform.