The Senate Judiciary Committee has called on top executives from prominent tech firms to address their handling of children and teenagers online.
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have issued subpoenas to Discord's Jason Citron, Snap's Evan Spiegel, and X's Linda Yaccarino for a December 6 hearing on online child sexual exploitation. They will likely be joined by Meta's Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok's Shou Zi Chew, who are expected to attend voluntarily, the Washington Examiner reported.
The CEOs were issued subpoenas after "repeated refusals to appear during several weeks of negotiations," Durbin and Graham said in a statement.
This action follows Durbin and Graham's concerns over the tech industry's inadequate self-regulation in safeguarding children online. In their statement, the senators highlighted the critical nature of this issue, promising Big Tech a chance to explain their failures in child protection.
"Big Tech's failure to police itself at the expense of our kids cannot go unnoticed," the two senators said. "At our February hearing on protecting children's safety online, we promised Big Tech that they'd have their chance to explain their failures to protect kids. Now's that chance."
Evan Spiegel of Snap has agreed to comply with the subpoena, as confirmed by a company spokesperson, who expressed appreciation for the opportunity to discuss this crucial issue with the Committee.
This hearing is timely, coinciding with Congressional consideration of the EARN IT Act. Proposed by Graham and Durbin, this bill seeks to hold Big Tech accountable for child sex abuse material on their platforms by amending telecommunications law.
This amendment would strip websites of legal protections if they fail to comply with federal laws on child sexual abuse material. Having been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill is now awaiting a vote in the Senate. Representatives from X and Discord have not yet responded to requests for comment on the subpoenas.