U.S. Justice Department to discuss consumer protection
at social media meeting
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[September 25, 2018]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S.
Justice Department said on Monday it will hold a "listening session"
with officials from more than a dozen states on Tuesday to discuss
consumer protection and the technology industry, an agency official
The meeting, first announced on Sept. 5, was called by Attorney General
Jeff Sessions to discuss whether social media companies have
intentionally stifled "the free exchange of ideas." It followed
criticisms by President Donald Trump of social media outlets, alleging
unfair treatment of conservatives.
Sessions will meet with attorneys general or representatives from
California, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas, among others, said
the official, who declined to be named.
Discussions are expected to focus on companies like Facebook Inc <FB.O>,
Twitter Inc <TWTR.N> and Google owner Alphabet Inc <GOOGL.O>, which have
been accused by some conservatives of seeking to exclude their ideas.
The companies have denied any bias.
As of Monday, two people familiar with the planning said that they had
not yet seen an agenda for the meeting. Last Friday, a person familiar
with the discussions said the Justice Department was considering
delaying the meeting.
The Justice Department had previously said it had invited a bipartisan
group of 24 state attorneys general to attend the Sept. 25 meeting.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said that he worries about
suppression of conservative ideas on Facebook, Twitter and other social
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Xavier Becerra from California, home
to much of the tech industry, said that he looked forward to a
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) logo is pictured on a wall after a
news conference in New York December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File
Representative Greg Walden, chair of the House of Representatives Energy and
Commerce Committee, said in a hearing this month that Twitter had made
"mistakes" that, he said, minimized Republicans' presence on its site, a
practice conservatives have labeled "shadow banning."
Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey responded at the hearing that some
platform's algorithms had been changed to fix the issue.
Some of the state officials attending the meeting or sending representatives
have also expressed concern about how Google uses consumer data.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed a lawsuit against Google in January
2017, accusing the company of misusing data collected from public school
students who use the company's software. That lawsuit is pending.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, meanwhile, opened an investigation in
November 2017 into whether Google's data collection practices violate consumer
protection laws. Hawley is also probing whether Google violated antitrust law by
manipulating search results to favor its own products.
Google said at the time of the probe being opened that it had "strong privacy
protections in place for our users and continue to operate in a highly
competitive and dynamic environment."
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; editing by Lisa Shumaker and Rosalba O'Brien)
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