Texas AG issues CIDs to Big Tech companies over censorship and anti-trust behavior
02/02/2021 // Nolan Barton // Views

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued civil investigative demands (CID) to leading tech companies, namely Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Apple.

CID is considered a type of administrative subpoena used by some executive agencies in the United States to obtain information relevant to an investigation. It is typically issued before a complaint is filed by the government against the recipient of the CID.

Information being requested includes the policies and practices of the companies regarding content moderation. The CIDs issued also specifically seek information related to Parler, a social media application recently blocked or terminated by Google, Apple and AWS.

A press release posted at the website of the Texas Attorney General stated that big tech companies have silenced voices in the social media sphere and shut down competing companies and platforms for years and that it has grown worse in recent months. It also mentioned the removal and blocking of former president Donald Trump from online media platforms, calling the action discriminatory and unprecedented. (Related: Twitter now bans people for posting FACTS that “offend” liberals.)

"First Amendment rights and transparency must be maintained for a free online community to operate and thrive. However, the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the president of the United States and several leading voices not only chills free speech, it wholly silences those whose speech and political beliefs do not align with leaders of big tech companies," said Paxton.


"Every American should be concerned about this large-scale silencing and the effects it will have on the future of free speech. The public deserves the truth about how these companies moderate and possibly eliminate speech they disagree with. I am hopeful that these companies will set aside partisan politics and cooperate with these CIDs in order to get to the bottom of this contention and ensure a truly free online community consistent with the highest American ideals."

Trump may have joined Parler following Twitter ban

On Thursday, Jan. 14, Parler’s lawyer, David Groesbeck, told a federal court in Washington State that the site would have been a logical destination for the president following the permanent ban on his Twitter account.

In the company's court filing, Parler Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Matze argued that possibility was behind the decision of AWS to stop hosting their content.

"I believe AWS's decision to terminate service to Parler was based, not on expressed concerns about Parler's compliance with the AWS Agreement, but in part on a desire to deny Trump a platform on any large social-media service," Matze said.

Parler had a surge of new users after mainstream social media sites blocked Trump and others who had posted provocative messages in the hours around the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. The social media app had 15 million users when AWS cut off its service and put Parler offline just before midnight on Sunday, Jan. 10.

Apple and Google earlier removed Parler from their app stores because of its failure to adopt a content moderation plan to deal with violent threats.

During the hearing, Groesbeck denied that Parler was involved in the Capitol attack last week and urged Judge Barbara Rothstein to order AWS to reinstate its web hosting service.

"AWS is alleging without evidence that Parler was used to incite the riots," Groesbeck said. "There is no evidence other than some anecdotal press references that Parler was involved in the riots of Jan. 6."

Ambika Doran, a lawyer for AWS, said Parler had no plan to effectively moderate content that incites violence.

According to Doran, AWS executives were concerned about continuing to host the site because of a surge in violent posts following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. She noted that the company was slow to eliminate violent rape, murder and torture threats from its platform.

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