WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today sent letters to nine Big Tech firms seeking information about coordination with more than 40 government officials who were attempting to flag, censor, and investigate the content and accounts of Americans online.
Sen. Cruz wrote:
“The Twitter Files continue to reveal the extent to which U.S. government employees, acting in an official capacity, applied pressure to, as well as coordinated with, social media companies in an effort to restrict Americans’ speech. Instead of focusing on their taxpayer-funded remit to protect and promote the interests of all Americans, agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of State (DOS) turned their attention to micromanaging what Americans can post and see online. Often, this censorship directly interfered in legitimate public debate around issues of national significance, such as elections and the evolving science on COVID-19.
“This is not only a shocking abuse of government power, but also a blatant infringement on Americans’ First Amendment rights. As the Supreme Court concluded in Texas v. Johnson, “[t]he government may not prohibit the verbal or nonverbal expression of an idea merely because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable.” But the Twitter Files reveal that, in some cases, the government attempted to accomplish exactly that.”
Specifically, Sen. Cruz has requested that Google, Meta, LinkedIn, Yahoo!, Medium, Reddit, Microsoft, Pinterest, and Wikipedia confirm whether they had any contact with federal agencies and named employees. The officials were part of the following agencies and departments:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)
- U.S. Department of State (DOS)
- National Security Agency (NSA)
- National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- U.S. Department of the Treasury (UST)
- U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
- U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Office of the Surgeon General (OSG)
- National Security Council (NSC)
- FBI – Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF)
- FBI – National Election Command Post
- FBI – Office of Private Sector (OPS) program
- DOS – Global Engagement Center (GEC)
- DHS – Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
- DHS – Countering Foreign Influence Task Force (CFITF)
- DHS – Office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A)
- FBI & DHS – Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC)
Sen. Cruz is also requesting information about requests from federal employees to review, monitor, investigate, promote, or restrict content around high-profile topics such as voting and elections, the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest in the U.S. related to abortion or policing, and dissemination of materials from the hard drive of Hunter Biden.
The full text of the letters is available HERE.
Last month, Sen. Cruz sent a letter to social media companies Meta, Google, Twitter, and TikTok launching a sweeping oversight investigation into Big Tech’s use of content moderation practices, such as “blacklists,” “de-emphasizing,” and other means of reducing distribution of disfavored speech.