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Congress wants tech CEOs to address child sexual abuse on their apps

Lawmakers have struggled to get tech CEOs to come before Congress. In some cases, U.S. Marshals had to serve subpoenas in person.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Posted at 5:55 PM, Nov 29, 2023

Senate lawmakers announced Wednesday that a Jan. 31 hearing will call big tech CEOs to address child sexual abuse material on their platforms.

Witnesses before the Senate Judiciary Committee will include Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta; Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X; Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok; Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snap and Jason Citron, CEO of Discord.

Sens. Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham said some companies had initially refused to make their CEOs available for a hearing. They said the process involved "remarkable departures" from usual subpoena procedure when some companies refused subpoenas. U.S. Marshals were ultimately forced to attempt to serve a subpoena in person at Discord's offices.

"The CEOs of X, Discord, and Snap will testify pursuant to subpoenas issued by the Committee, following repeated refusals over weeks of negotiations by the three Big Tech leaders to testify," lawmakers said. "The CEOs of Meta and TikTok voluntarily agreed to testify at the hearing."

“We’ve known from the beginning that our efforts to protect children online would be met with hesitation from Big Tech," Sens. Durbin and Graham wrote. "They finally are being forced to acknowledge their failures when it comes to protecting kids. Now that all five companies are cooperating, we look forward to hearing from their CEOs. Parents and kids demand action.”

FBI Warns Parents Of Increase In 'Sextortion' Cases Among Kids, Teens
An FBI seal is seen on a wall.

FBI Warns Parents Of Increase In 'Sextortion' Cases Among Kids, Teens

Sextortion often involves kids or teens who are coerced into sending explicit images online then being extorted for money to keep them private.


Last year the FBI warned the practice of sextortion was exploding online, with criminals coercing children into sharing explicit images and then extorting them for money.

Earlier this year, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Health and Human Services announced a new task force to investigate the health and abuse risks children face online, and to recommend new ways to track and prevent it.