Two Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are asking Amazon to answer to allegations of “systemic viewpoint-based discrimination” against conservative viewpoints.
In a letter to current Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.) requested that the prominent cloud services provider turn over documents and information on its alleged censorship activities.
“Big Tech, including Amazon, is engaged in systematic viewpoint-based discrimination. In the unfortunate phenomenon of ‘cancel culture,’ Amazon plays a leading role in silencing and censoring the political speech of conservative Americans,” the lawmakers wrote.
They added, “In just the last several months, Amazon has exhibited a pattern of curtailing, censoring, and removing from its platforms content that espouses conservative viewpoints.”
Jordan is the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and Buck is the top Republican on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust.
The two allege that Amazon has been “exerting editorial control” over content on its platforms in a way that is “biased against conservatives and conservative viewpoints.”
They listed out several alleged editorial decisions by Amazon that “give the appearance of a coordinated effort to cancel conservative speech” on the big tech company’s platforms.
Three incidences occurred in June 2020. In one instance, Amazon “refused to allow” advertising for a book that was critical of transgender ideology, the two noted. In another case, Amazon’s Kindle e-book self-publishing platform refused to publish a booklet that challenged certain prevailing views on the efficacy of lockdowns imposed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In yet another instance of the same month, Amazon temporarily banned President Donald Trump’s account from its video streaming service, Twitch, over comments he made at political rallies. Amazon later disabled Trump’s account indefinitely from Twitch after the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.
Another incident cited by the two GOP Reps include Amazon’s de-platforming of Parler, a competitor to social platform Twitter, that is popular among conservatives.
Jordan and Buck asked the company to produce documents by 5 p.m. on March 25 on seven alleged cases of censorship against conservative viewpoints.
Amazon and Bezos didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment from The Epoch Times. Bezos earlier this year said he is set to step down as CEO in the fall, to be replaced by Andy Jassy, who currently runs the company’s cloud computing business.
Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Antitrust Subcommittee chair Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), were copied on the letter.
The letter to Amazon comes just over a week after Jordan called on Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, to hold a public committee hearing on “cancel culture,” which would be the first of its kind. Nadler’s office at the time did not respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.
Jordan, who focused on cancel culture in his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in late February, told The Epoch Times’ American Thought Leaders that free speech won’t exist if the left is the only entity that is allowed to define what speech is.
“That’s the scariest thing happening in the country. If you can’t have a First Amendment real debate, if you can’t speak out, how are you going to win. How are you going to win the tax debate? How are you going to win the border security debate? How are you going to win in any public policy issue? If only one side is allowed to talk? So that’s why we have to fight this more than anything else,” he said.
Public sentiment against big tech censorship and cancel culture has grown louder following the censorship of former Trump and other conservatives, especially in the lead up to and aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, and following the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, amid allegations of voting irregularities and election fraud, and the New York Post’s unfavorable report about then-candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
Online platforms have been accused of using their powers to stamp out or suppress speech they don’t agree with. Trump and a number of other GOP lawmakers have, since last year repeatedly called to limit or remove legal liability protections under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act for companies that are believed to have censored viewpoints they don’t like.
Janita Kan contributed to this report.