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Key Republican subpoenas Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft, citing alleged collusion with the government to suppress speech

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Ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, right, attends the House Judiciary Committee hearing titled Revoking Your Rights: The Ongoing Crisis in Abortion Care Access, in Rayburn Building, on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, sent subpoenas to five Big Tech companies on Wednesday, demanding communications between the companies and the U.S. government to “understand how and to what extent the Executive Branch coerced and colluded with companies and other intermediaries to censor speech.”

The subpoenas, issued to the CEOs of Google parent Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft, come just months after Jordan initially requested the companies hand over such information voluntarily. Jordan gave the companies a deadline of March 23 to comply with the demands.

“Your response without compulsory process has been woefully inadequate,” Jordan wrote in the letters.

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The GOP House Judiciary chair also held up the Elon Musk-run Twitter as a positive example of transparency.

“In contrast to Alphabet, Twitter recently set a benchmark for how transparent Big Tech companies can be about interactions with government over censorship,” Jordan wrote, with similar language in the messages to other companies.

“The Twitter Files have exposed how Big Tech and the federal government have worked hand in hand in ways that undermine First Amendment principles. Numerous internal documents from Twitter reflect the weaponization of the federal government’s power to censor speech online. It is necessary for Congress to gauge the extent to which this occurred at Alphabet as well.”

The Twitter Files are a series of reports by independent journalists selected by Musk to gain access to internal communications at the company and shed light on Twitter’s decision-making prior to Musk’s ownership.

The reports have reviewed topics of particular interest to the political right, like Twitter’s decision to block a New York Post story about Hunter Biden prior to the 2020 presidential election, which the company later admitted it got wrong and reversed. Musk has called himself a free speech absolutist, though he has removed or limited the accounts of journalists and others for their posts.

A Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement the company has “started producing documents” and is “engaged with the Committee, and committed to working in good faith.”

A Meta spokesperson also said it’s “already begun producing documents in response to the committee’s requests and will continue to do so moving forward.”

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The other three companies and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Source: CNBC

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