U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, today questioned Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen during a subcommittee hearing on protecting children online. Earlier this year, Thune reintroduced two bipartisan bills, the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act and the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, that would help increase online transparency and accountability.
Thune’s opening remarks below (as prepared for delivery)
“Thank you Chairman Blumenthal and Ranking Member Blackburn for holding this important hearing.
“While serving on the Commerce Committee, I’ve held hearings and introduced bipartisan bills to address these issues being discussed today. The Filter Bubble Transparency Act introduced with Senators Blumenthal and Blackburn and many other colleagues on this Committee would provide transparency around the algorithms Big Tech companies use, and it would give users the option to engage with social media platforms without being manipulated by these secret formulas that essentially dictate the content you see when you open an app or log on to a website.
“It’s also clear we need to hold Big Tech accountable by reforming Section 230, and one of the best opportunities for bipartisanship on the issue is the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency or PACT Act, my legislation with Senator Schatz. Apart from stripping Section 230 protections for content that a court determines to be illegal, the PACT Act would increase transparency and due process for users around the content moderation process. Importantly, in the context of this hearing with a major Big Tech whistleblower, the PACT Act would explore the viability of a federal program for Big Tech employees to blow the whistle on wrongdoing inside the companies where they work. In my view, we should encourage employees in the tech sector to speak up about questionable practices of Big Tech companies so we can, among other things, ensure Americans are fully aware of how social media platforms are using artificial intelligence and opaque algorithms to keep them hooked on the platform.”