Sen. Cruz Delivers Introductory Remarks at Google Censorship Hearing- Full Text:
Welcome to our witnesses this past April this subcommittee held a hearing on Social Media bias with witnesses from Facebook and Twitter. As I noted then any any inquiry into big tech censorship practices must take an especially hard look at Google. That's what we're doing here today.
Google's control over what people here watch read and say is unprecedented. Almost 90% of internet searches in the United States use Google. Google's domination of the search engine market is so complete that - Google is now a commonplace verb with that market power.
Google can and often does control our discourse and sometimes tech companies talk about their products and the effects of those products as though their forces outside of big tech control. As we've heard time and time again Big Tech favored defense is "it wasn't me the algorithm did it" but Google search engine isn't some supernatural force it's a computer program written and maintained by people. So every time we search on Google we see only the web pages that Google decides we should see. In the order that Google decides we should see them type a few letters into the search bar and Google will tell you what you should be looking for.
The same is true of Google's subsidiary YouTube the second most visited web page in existence. When you search on YouTube programs written by people at YouTube provide you with the results. When you watch a video a program written by the people at YouTube suggests what you should watch next and when you submit a video people at YouTube determine whether you've engaged in so-called hate speech an ever-changing and vague standard meant to give censorship an air of legitimacy. This is a staggering amount of power to ban speech to manipulate search results to destroy rivals and to shape culture. More and more Americans are demanding accountability from big tech for that massive power. One thing is certain Congress never intended to empower large technology companies to control our speech when it passed section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that provision section 230 gave tech companies special privileges that nobody else gets . If the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal were to publish an op-ed that libeled a private citizen they can be held responsible. This is the case even when those organizations don't write the content that breaks the law they can be held responsible merely for publishing it. Not so for companies like Google and YouTube if someone uses one of those services to commit slander or to transmit classified material or to traffic guns or drugs far too often Google is off the hook. Section 230 makes it immune big tech gets a perk a subsidy that no one else does. Fox News, MSNBC or anybody else this immunity however was part of a deal it was a trade section 230 the text of it refers to the Internet as quote a forum for a true diversity of political discourse that was the trade at the hardest section to. This is because we expected tech companies in the business of carrying other speech wouldn't favor any side when they did so there wouldn't be a conservative internet and a liberal Internet. There just be the internet that bargain today is falling apart big tech continues to reap the benefits of his section 230 subsidy but the American people do not the American people are instead subject to both overt censorship and covert manipulation. I believe it's time to rethink that deal if big tech cannot provide us with evidence clear compelling data and evidence that it's not playing Big Brother with its vast immense powers there's no reason on earth why Congress should give them a special subsidy through section 230 and that takes us to the heart of the problem. Big tech is anything but transparent. Google is happy to collect data on everyone, everywhere constantly on you on me on all of us they make sure they know what you search what you shop for online. What you like; they track your location within a matter of feet so that they know when you visit a physical store but the information sharing is a one-way street. This must change Google cannot simply hide behind its algorithms Big Tech algorithms and search engines only do what humans that companies like Google tell them to do. Just as big tech needs and wants data on all of us the American people need and want data on big tech they need it to profit we need it to protect free speech and I hope that today Google will start to answer some of our questions fully and candidly. So that we can assess how we can work together to protect the robust marketplace of ideas that American political discourse has been built upon centered her own