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Sen. Lee questions Big Tech CEOs for removing Parler from platforms

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) joined Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) in sending a letter to the CEOs of Amazon, Apple and Google to request answers regarding the removal of Parler (Photo: CNN)

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) joined Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) in sending a letter to the CEOs of Amazon, Apple and Google to request answers regarding the removal of Parler — an uncensored, alt-right social media site — from the three platforms in early January. The letter alleges the companies may have acted in “close coordination” by prohibiting the download of Parler from each of the companies’ app stores within the span of three days. 

The technology companies removed Parler from its stores after the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, noting the platform failed to address perpetual threats and violation of people’s safety. Apple was the first to remove the social media site, notifying Parler of its expulsion on Jan. 8 — removing it the next day. Google quickly followed sui, removing Parler from its Play Store Jan. 8. 

Amazon was the last to take action, suspending service to Parler on Jan. 10. 

However, the GOP lawmakers argue the conservative social media site did not violate the law. 

“These actions were against a company that is not alleged to have violated any law,” the senators wrote. “In fact, information provided by Parler to the House Oversight Committee revealed that Parler was assisting law enforcement even in advance of January 6.”

The letter is the latest step from Republican lawmakers demanding answers from Big Tech companies, with hopes the answers can build a legal case for Parler to get back on their services. Without the three companies, Sen. Lee and Rep. Buck argue the company is unable to serve its 15 million users. 

“The timing of steps taken against the Parler social network by your companies […] seem to lack any of the procedural fairness typically afforded in the case of an alleged breach of contract create the appearance of close coordination,” they wrote. 

The lawmakers included a list of 33 questions they want the companies to answer, attempting to uncover whether the actions were coordinated as an attack against the social media site. Other questions inquire whether the companies notified Parler in advance of restricting access to the site — and whether that’s a common practice in other cases. 

Republican lawmakers have historically accused tech companies like Google and Twitter for stifling conservative views — but now they’ve broadened these accusations against Amazon and Apple. 

“Please provide written answers and any related documentation, including e-mail and text messages, to the following inquiries no later than April 15, 2021,” the lawmakers wrote.