The House Judiciary Committee Chair, Jim Jordan, has threatened enforcement action against Google. Jordan is seeking documents from the company to learn about communications between tech companies and the Biden administration. Google’s compliance so far has been called ‘insufficient’ and Jordan has demanded more information. If the company fails to comply fully by its new May 22 deadline, Jordan warned, “the Committee may be forced to consider the use of one or more enforcement mechanisms.”
Jordan issued subpoenas to the CEOs of Google parent Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft in February, demanding they hand over communication with the U.S. government to “understand how and to what extent the Executive Branch coerced and colluded with companies and other intermediaries to censor speech.” Jordan requested the companies comply by March 23. He made the request after initially asking the companies to hand over the information voluntarily, but said they had not sufficiently complied. Several other tech giants were subpoenaed in connection with the committee’s investigation, but the other companies have so far appeared more responsive than Google to the demands.
Congress can hold individuals in contempt for refusing to provide information requested by a committee. Doing so requires a committee vote and then a floor vote, with a simple majority. Republicans currently hold the majority in the House 222-213. Criminal contempt cases can be referred to the Justice Department, or Congress could seek a civil judgement from a federal court to try to enforce the subpoena.
In the letter, Jordan laid out several ways Alphabet has failed to adequately comply with the committee’s demands. Alphabet “has frustrated the Committee’s review of the responsive material by unilaterally redacting key information necessary to understand the context and content of the material,” said Jordan. Alphabet didn’t assert that those redactions included privileged information, according to Jordan, and the committee requires unredacted documents to be handed over.
Google has been producing relevant documents in response to the committee’s requests since December and “will continue to work constructively with them,” according to a Google spokesperson.