‘Text tax’ vote canceled by California utilities panel after FCC ruling

The California Public Utilities Commission has withdrawn from its January meeting agenda a scheduled vote on imposing a tax on text messaging. The move came after the Federal Communications Commission in Washington declared text messaging to be an “information service,” not a telecommunications service, and thus not subject to a surcharge under California law. “Prior … Continue reading “‘Text tax’ vote canceled by California utilities panel after FCC ruling”

The California Public Utilities Commission has withdrawn from its January meeting agenda a scheduled vote on imposing a tax on text messaging.

The move came after the Federal Communications Commission in Washington declared text messaging to be an “information service,” not a telecommunications service, and thus not subject to a surcharge under California law.

“Prior to this FCC ruling,” the CPUC wrote in a statement posted on Twitter, “text messaging was not a classified service under federal law.


“In light of the FCC’s action,” the statement added, “assigned Commissioner Carla J. Peterman has withdrawn from the CPUC’s Jan. 10, 2019 Voting Meeting agenda the draft decision in Docket R.17-06-023, which proposed to clarify that text messaging service should be subject to the [state of California’s[ statutory surcharge requirement.”

The CPUC’s plan was to use the proposed tax on text messages to help subsidize telecommunications service for the state’s rural areas, as well as for its low-income and disabled residents.

A report from the commission laid out why it viewed the tax was needed. It specifically cited declining telecommunications industry revenues during the past six years — a drop of nearly $5 million.


"This is unsustainable over time," the report states.

It was not clear from the CPUC’s statement whether the panel had an alternative plan for funding those initiatives.

Jim Patterson, a Republican former mayor of Fresno who now represents the state’s 23rd District as a state assemblyman, was among those hailing the CPUC’s decision to cancel the vote.

“You can bet I’ll keep a watchful eye on them for future shenanigans,” Patterson wrote on Twitter. “For now…consider the Text Tax cancelled.”

Previously, Patterson had characterized the text tax plan as “an outrageous attempt at a money grab from California families.”

The CPUC had claimed that revenues for its subsidy programs have been falling as consumers switch from traditional landline telecom services to text messaging, FOX 11 of Los Angeles reported.

Fox News’ Travis Fedschun contributed to this report.

Facebook ‘sorry’ for bug that may have exposed the photos of 6.8M users

A Facebook software flaw may have exposed the photos of 6.8 million users to a much wider audience than intended, the social network confirmed Friday.

“Our internal team discovered a photo API bug that may have affected people who used Facebook Login and granted permission to third-party apps to access their photos,” said Facebook’s Tomer Bar, in a blog post. “We have fixed the issue but, because of this bug, some third-party apps may have had access to a broader set of photos than usual for 12 days between September 13 to September 25, 2018.”

Bar said the bug may have affected up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers.


“We're sorry this happened,” he added. “Early next week we will be rolling out tools for app developers that will allow them to determine which people using their app might be impacted by this bug. We will be working with those developers to delete the photos from impacted users.”

News of the embarrassing software flaw comes just a day after Facebook opened a pop-up kiosk in Midtown Manhattan to teach users about privacy.

It's not yet known whether anyone actually saw the photos, but the revelation of the now-fixed problem served as another reminder of just how much data Facebook has on its 2.27 billion users, as well as how frequently these slip-ups are recurring.


Bryan Becker, an application security researcher at WhiteHat Security, said that Facebook should look at its internal procedures for handling code. “If we take Facebook at their word that the exposure only ran for 12 days, I think it’s best to assume this was caused by a bug in a code update (rather than, say, a poorly thought out security policy),” he said, in a statement emailed to Fox News. “Preventing bugs like this from making it to production takes an organized effort across the team. Secure code review, automated testing, and auditing are all needed to help defend against insecure code pushes.”

The bug is the latest in a series of privacy lapses that continue to crop up, despite Facebook's repeated pledges to batten down its hatches and do a better job preventing unauthorized access to the pictures, thoughts and other personal information its users intend to share only with friends and family.

Facebook and its leadership are coming under intense scrutiny at the moment amid ongoing concern about the tech giant’s handling of user data.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Google hits pause on selling facial recognition tech over abuse fears

The ethical dilemma swirling around facial recognition technology has prompted Google to hit pause on selling its own system to the public.

On Thursday, Google's Cloud business said it was holding off on offering a facial recognition system for general-purposes, citing the potential for abuse.

"We continue to work with many organizations to identify and address these challenges, and unlike some other companies, Google Cloud has chosen not to offer general-purpose facial recognition APIs before working through important technology and policy questions," company Vice President of Global Affairs Kent Walker wrote in a Thursday blog post.

Walker's statement was likely a subtle jab toward Amazon, which has been offering a facial recognition system to customers, including US law enforcement. Amazon's system, dubbed Rekognition, can identify people's faces in digital images and videos, making it useful for police to quickly look up suspects in criminal investigations. However, civil liberty groups fear the same technology can be abused to power mass surveillance over security cameras to track everyday citizens.

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  • Walker actually devoted most of the post to the benefits of facial recognition and AI algorithms that can decipher objects in images. For example, Google recently developed an AI model to help eye doctors quickly identify whether their diabetic patients suffered from a complication that can cause permanent blindness if left untreated.

    "Our AI model now detects diabetic retinopathy with a level of accuracy on par with human retinal specialists," Walker wrote. "This means doctors and staff can use this assistive technology to screen more patients in less time, sparing people from blindness through a more timely diagnosis."

    Google wants to bring the benefits of AI-driven technology to everyone, so it plans to continue researching the technology and carry out certain projects in coordination with third-party researchers, non-profits, governments, and businesses. "However, like many technologies with multiple uses, facial recognition merits careful consideration to ensure its use is aligned with our principles and values, and avoids abuse and harmful outcomes," Walker added.

    In June, Google adopted a set of new company principles on AI development that specifically ban the design and deployment of artificial intelligence as a weapon or surveillance tool. This came after Google employees protested the company's involvement in a Pentagon project to use AI to analyze drone footage.

    On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union praised Google's decision to refrain from offering a general-purpose facial recognition system. "This is a strong first step," ACLU director Nicole Ozer said in a statement. "Google today demonstrated that, unlike other companies doubling down on efforts to put dangerous face surveillance technology into the hands of law enforcement and ICE, it has a moral compass and is willing to take action to protect its customers and communities."

    Google does currently offer an object-recognition technology called Cloud Vision that can scan images and detect what they depict. But at this point, the system only offers "face detection." It does not support the ability to recognize a face and determine the person it belongs to.

    Meanwhile, rival Microsoft has also been selling a facial recognition system through its Azure platform. However, Microsoft has been outspoken in calling on governments to introduce laws that will regulate the technology before they can be abused on a wide scale.

    This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.

    ACLU slams ‘nightmarish’ Amazon patent application to bring facial recognition to your front door

    A patent application from Amazon to pair its facial recognition technology with a doorbell camera company that Amazon acquired has privacy advocates saying the company is building a perfect tool for authoritarian surveillance.

    The patent application, which was filed by doorbell company Ring prior to being purchased by Amazon earlier this year, shows a system that law enforcement officers can use to match faces of people walking by your house who might be deemed "suspicious." Homeowners could add photographs into the system, potentially allowing the doorbell's facial recognition program to scan anyone who walks by. If a match occurs, that information could be sent to the police, who could arrive in minutes.

    A former patent litigator who works for the ACLU in Northern California described it as "disturbing" on the civil liberties group's website.


    "It’s rare for patent applications to lay out, in such nightmarish detail, the world a company wants to bring about," said Jacob Snow, a technology and civil liberties attorney at the ACLU. "Amazon is dreaming of a dangerous future, with its technology at the center of a massive decentralized surveillance network, running real-time facial recognition on members of the public using cameras installed in people’s doorbells."

    Amazon declined to comment for this story.

    The ACLU has previously called attention to Amazon's Rekognition program, which the tech giant has sold to police departments and marketed to ICE, as being discriminatory toward people of color, immigrants and the formerly incarcerated. A test found that the Rekognition system wrongly identified 28 lawmakers — most of whom were people of color — as police suspects.

    Amazon's facial recognition system has also been protested by its own employees and by lawmakers who worry it may be racially biased.

    The ACLU lawyer concludes by saying: "Amazon is building the tools for authoritarian surveillance that advocates, activists, community leaders, politicians, and experts have repeatedly warned against. It is doing so without regard for how the technology will be exploited by law enforcement, ICE, and other government agencies prone to violence and racial discrimination."


    A person familiar with the patent told Fox News that the filing is only an application and has not been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; they also noted that, like most patents, it does not necessarily reflect any definitive plans for future products.

    Fox News’ James Rogers contributed to this report.

    Christopher Carbone covers technology and science for Fox News Digital. Tips or story leads: christopher.carbone@foxnews.com. Follow @christocarbone.

    Google slammed by New Zealand lawmaker after naming suspect in the murder of British backpacker

    Google has been by slammed by a New Zealand lawmaker after the tech giant reportedly published the name of the suspect in the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane.

    The 22-year-old British tourist was murdered earlier this month, according to police. She was staying at a backpacker hostel in Auckland when she went missing Dec. 1. Millane failed to contact her family on her birthday the following day, which alarmed them.

    A week later, police found Millane's body in a forested area not far from the side of the road in the Waitakere Ranges near Auckland.


    A 26-year-old man has been charged with Millane’s murder but has not been named.

    The BBC reports that the suspect in the case was granted a “temporary name suppression” while he awaits trial. However, the suspect was named in a mass email sent out earlier this week by Google, according to the New Zealand Herald. The email, which was viewed by the Herald, reportedly named the accused in its subject heading.

    The email was sent out to people signed up to receive information on “what’s trending in New Zealand.”

    New Zealand Justice Minister Andrew Little told the newspaper that publication of the suspect’s details in New Zealand is a breach of the court order. If the breach was linked back to Google infrastructure in New Zealand, the tech giant could be prosecuted, he said.


    Google told the Herald that its initial investigation shows that it did not know about the suppression order. The search giant would comply with any court order it was made aware of, it said.

    The spokesperson said that Google trends alerts are generated automatically by algorithms based on searches in specific geographies over a certain period of time.

    Police have declined to comment on reports that Millane met the man charged with her murder on Tinder.

    The Associated Press contributed to this article.

    Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

    Twitter’s Jack Dorsey responds to Myanmar criticism over meditation trip

    Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to the backlash over his comments about a 10-day meditation retreat in Myanmar, which has seen the country's Rohingya Muslims suffering at the hands of its military.

    Dorsey, 42, was called "tone deaf" over his praise of the country and its people, and the fact that he did not comment on the widely acknowledged human rights abuses impacting the Rohingya.

    In a continuation of his original tweet thread regarding the trip, Dorsey clarified that the Myanmar trip was a personal one and that he only went there because the region maintains vipassana meditation, which he's been practicing for two years, in its original form.

    "I’m aware of the human rights atrocities and suffering in Myanmar. I don’t view visiting, practicing, or talking with the people, as [an] endorsement," he said on Twitter. "I didn’t intend to diminish by not raising the issue but could have acknowledged that I don’t know enough and need to learn more."


    Dorsey also added that he had no conversations with government organizations or NGOs during the trip.

    Since August 2017, an estimated 10,000 Rohingya are reported to have been murdered at the hands of the military, according to Doctors Without Borders. In addition, at least 750,000 people, according to Amnesty International, have been forced over the border to Bangladesh.

    Dorsey also said that Twitter was “actively” working in Myanmar to ensure it was not used as a platform for “violent extremism and hateful conduct.”

    “We know we can’t do this alone, and continue to welcome conversation with and help from civil society and NGOs within the region,” he said. "We’re always open to feedback on how to best improve."


    The chief executive, who is also the CEO of mobile payments company Square, had been taken to task after his original remarks.

    "Absolutely astounded that you don’t seem to think the people on your feed merit a response in relation to your tone-deaf tweets," one Twitter user wrote. "You think staying silent is going to make the outrage dissipate?!"

    In June, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were sentenced to seven years behind bars for “breaching the country’s official secrets act” after being accused of obtaining classified documents. However, their trial was largely viewed as a sham by the international community.

    Myanmar has consistently denied that its military has committed atrocities against the Rohingya, claiming it was only responding to attacks from militants. But United Nations officials and human rights groups have said that top Myanmar generals should face trial in an international court for genocide.

    Christopher Carbone covers technology and science for Fox News Digital. Tips or story leads: christopher.carbone@foxnews.com. Follow @christocarbone.

    Amazon execs grilled, jeered at New York City Council hearing over HQ2

    New York City Council members unloaded on Amazon and the Economic Development Corporation during a contentious hearing about the tech giant's plan to bring its second headquarters to the Long Island City waterfront.

    During the hearing, two Amazon executives were peppered with questions about the deal that will bring at least 25,000 jobs paying an average of $150,000 per year in exchange for tax breaks and perks worth up to $3 billion. The plan for a helipad, which has been criticized by Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, drew particular scorn.

    "The only transportation piece of this project I've seen involves a helipad. I'm serious. This is like something out of The Onion," said New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson in his opening remarks. "So yes, Jeff Bezos' commute is all set. What about the rest of the New Yorkers crammed into the subways every day?

    Johnson, who plans to have more public hearings in the coming months, also said: "I'm already seeing stories of a real estate boom in Long Island City. Is that a good thing? Not to most New Yorkers who are already struggling to afford their rents here."


    “We believe this project will be a positive economic impact for the city and the state,” said Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy for Amazon, according to The New York Times. His remarks were reportedly met by guffaws from the audience, which seemed to be comprised mostly of the project's opponents.

    Later in the hearing, which was interrupted by applause and jeers at times, Brian Huseman, Amazon's vice president of public policy, said that Amazon will fund the construction of the helipad and that it will not be used by any of the tech behemoth's senior executives.

    Johnson reportedly responded: "Do you realize how out of touch that seems for the average New Yorker?"

    The City Council Speaker, who represents a huge swath of Manhattan neighborhoods in District 3, had a hard time getting the two Amazon executives to agree to more public hearings.


    "You're a trillion dollar company that's coming to New York City, you're avoiding the land use process, you're taking $3 billion in money and you won't agree to come to public hearings?" he asked.

    The Amazon executives said they'd be happy to continue a dialogue with the City Council, but Johnson insisted that any dialogue had to be in public.

    Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who has also expressed opposition to the deal, asked the Amazon executives if the company would agree to redirect the $500 million state capital grant to four massive public housing projects in Queens.

    “So we’re going to create jobs here in the city,” Huseman said, according to Courthouse News. Later, he explained that about half the jobs would be technical and half nontechnical; Holly Sullivan, Amazon's head of worldwide economic development, said the company would hire 2,000 to 3,000 workers in New York on an annual basis.

    At another point in the hearing, James Patchett, president and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which had a hand in negotiating the deal, defended the agreement and pointed to a Quinnipiac University poll of New York voters showing 57 percent approve of the planned Long Island City HQ2.

    According to Courthouse News, opponents of the deal have said the poll is not representative of Queens residents, nearly half of whom are immigrants and many of whom are undocumented.

    The poll also indicated less support for $3 billion in subsidies, with nearly 80 percent of those surveyed saying New York City should be "more involved" with Amazon's plans.

    When the Amazon executives and city officials were sworn in, protesters in the chamber's balcony unfurled a blue banner that said “No to Amazon.” Opponents of the deal reportedly shouted, “G-T-F-O, Amazon has got to go!”

    Christopher Carbone covers technology and science for Fox News Digital. Tips or story leads: christopher.carbone@foxnews.com. Follow @christocarbone.

    Woman who endured stillbirth pleads with tech companies to cease baby ads

    A woman who recently suffered a stillbirth penned an emotional letter to technology companies this week about how she still receives baby-related advertisements even after she shared on social media that her son had died.

    Gillian Brockell first shared her open letter to Facebook, Instagram, Experian and Twitter on the latter platform on Tuesday. It came more than a week after an earlier post in which she revealed the sad update about her son.

    Brockell, a video editor at The Washington Post, was at the hospital when she shared the post and was “in the process of delivering” her son, who she said would “be stillborn.”

    Her note to tech companies was also posted on her employer’s website.

    “I know you knew I was pregnant,” Brockell wrote before admitting to using hashtags and clicking on advertisements that were related to her pregnancy. The companies likely noticed the pictures and her post about her baby shower, as well as her Google searches pertaining to her being an expecting mother, she wrote.

    “But didn’t you also see me googling ‘braxton hicks vs. preterm labor’ and ‘baby not moving’? Did you not see my three days of social media silence, uncommon for a high-frequency user like me? And then the announcement post with keywords like ‘heartbroken’ and ‘problem’ and ‘stillborn’ and the 200 teardrop emoticons from my friends?” Brockell asked. “Is that not something you could track?”

    “And let me tell you what social media is like when you finally come home from the hospital with the emptiest arms in the world, after you and your husband have spent days sobbing in bed, and you pick up your phone for a few minutes of distraction before the next wail,” she wrote. “It’s exactly, crushingly, the same as it was when your baby was still alive. A Pea in the Pod. Motherhood Maternity. Latched Mama. Every damn Etsy tchotchke I was considering for the nursery.”

    And despite hitting the “I don’t want to see this ad” option and relaying that the advertisements were “not relevant to me,” Brockell claimed that the companies’ algorithm determined that she had “given birth.”

    It “assumes a happy result,” she continued, adding that she was then sent ads for items like strollers and nursing bras.

    Experian, she said, urged her through a spam email to “’finish registering your baby’ with them.”

    “Please, Tech Companies, I implore you: If your algorithms are smart enough to realize that I was pregnant, or that I’ve given birth, then surely they can be smart enough to realize that my baby died, and advertise to me accordingly — or maybe, just maybe, not at all,” she concluded.

    In an addendum below her post, Brockell noted that Rob Goldman, Facebook’s Vice President of ads replied to her Twitter version of the letter.

    “I am so sorry for your loss and your painful experience with our products,” Goldman wrote. “We have a setting available that can block ads about some topics people may find painful – including parenting. It still needs improvement, but please know that we’re working on it & welcome your feedback.”

    Facebook and Instagram directed Fox News to the post upon request for comment.

    “We cannot imagine the pain of those who have experienced this type of loss," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News. "We are continuously working on improving our advertising products to ensure they serve appropriate content to the people who use our services.”

    An Experian spokesperson told Fox News that the company had contacted Brockell to apologize and share their "deepest condolences."

    "While the email was not based on marketing data, we understand the inappropriate timing of the communication," Experian said.

    Google CEO on Capitol Hill: Here are some of the weirdest exchanges

    Google CEO Sundar Pichai's Tuesday appearance on Capitol Hill featured a mix of strange theater and baffling moments as the engineer-turned-chief executive parried questions from lawmakers.

    Although some questions were about privacy and hate speech, the event was dominated primarily by accusations of political bias. At various moments, Pichai fielded questions from House Judiciary Committee lawmakers that either showed their own more Luddite sensibilities or betrayed a misunderstanding of how Google's powerful search engine actually works.

    Rep. Steve King (R.-IA) demanded to see the social media profiles of Google's employees that work on search so that they could be probed for any "built-in bias" against conservatives.


    “There is a very strong conviction on this side of the aisle that the algorithms are written with a bias against conservatives,” King said during the hearing.


    Pichai explained throughout the hearing that Google's search system is driven by algorithms, constantly improved by human raters who follow strict guidelines and that search cannot be manipulated by rogue employees.

    In another odd exchange, King quizzed Pichai on why his 7-year-old granddaughter saw a picture of him with derogatory language pop up on her iPhone while she was playing a game prior to the November election.

    "Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company," Pichai responded, prompting laughter from some Democrats on the committee.

    The tech CEO then added that he'd be willing to follow up when King claimed it might have been an Android phone.

    Rep. Steve Chabot (R.-OH) complained about having to go to a third or fourth page of search results to find good things about GOP-proposed health care policy or the Republican tax cut bill. When Pichai responded by saying that Google's algorithm reflects what is being said objectively, without regard to partisanship, Chabot disagreed, seeming to imply that a Google employee is pulling strings "Wizard of Oz"-style to influence search.

    "You've got somebody out there" changing search results.

    Pichai said he'd be happy to follow up and explain more about how the process works.

    When a user types a question into Google, the company's software matches the query with terms on the most relevant pages and ranks those pages based on authoritativeness and relevance prior to producing your results, Pandu Nayak, Google’s head of ranking, told Fox News in a recent interview.

    Meanwhile, its algorithms are constantly being improved based on input from about 10,000 search quality raters who conduct thousands of tightly-controlled experiments in accordance with public guidelines.


    Google CEO Sundar Pichai appears before the House Judiciary Committee to be questioned about the internet giant’s privacy security and data collection, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Rep. Lamar Smith (R.-TX) began by claiming that Google is censoring conservative views, mentioning a "study" cited by President Trump purporting to show that 96 percent of searches for Trump come from "left-leaning sources." The "study" was rated false by Politifact.

    Pichai — noting that the top news sources on media reflect a diversity of sources — responded by saying that several of Smith's citations were inaccurate and had flaws in its methodology. The exchange continued in that vein, with Smith asking what Pichai would do about "bias."

    “Today we use some very robust methodology, and we have been doing [so] for 20 years. Making sure that results are accurate is what we need to do well and we work hard to do that,” the chief executive said.

    Still, the line of questioning continued.

    Rep. Louie Gohmert (R.-TX) was not happy that the Southern Poverty Law Center, which he said has "stirred up more hate than any other group," is a trusted flagger of content on Google-owned YouTube. The company's trusted flagger program was created to help nongovernmental groups and users flag videos that may violate YouTube's community guidelines; the tech company partners with a wide range of groups in the program.

    Unrelenting, Gohmert said that Pichai is surrounded by "liberality" that "hates conservatives."

    Since the Texas representative didn't ask any questions, Pichai did not respond, although later in the hearing he said, "I’ve communicated clearly that we need to welcome all perspectives at Google."

    After being questioned by Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland about a Washington Post report showing that YouTube is still struggling with conspiracies and hate speech on its platform, Pichai said the company has a responsibility to do more in this area and noted that 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

    House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., left, talks with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, before the House Judiciary Committee questions Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the internet giant’s privacy security and data collection, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    A brief exchange with Texas Rep. Ted Poe, also a Republican, encapsulated the hearing's weird vibe.

    “I have an iPhone," Poe said, brandishing the device for all to see. "If I go and sit with my Democratic friends over there, does Google track my movement?"

    When Pichai began to reply, explaining that the answer to Poe's question really depends on settings for location, apps, and privacy configurations, Poe cut him off. “It’s a 'yes' or 'no' question,” he yelled.

    As a factual matter, it was not.

    Lastly, Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California excoriated his Republican colleagues over their complaints regarding alleged bias in search results.

    After doing a search in real-time for "Congressman Steve King," and noting that the first result was an ABC News article with a negative tone, Lieu asked Pichai if there were people at Google trying to modify search results for individuals in a political way.

    Pichai reiterated that Google does not manipulate results for people in that way.

    "So let me just conclude here by stating the obvious," Lieu responded. "If you want positive search results, do positive things. If you don't want negative search results, don't do negative things.

    "And to some of my colleagues across the aisle, if you're getting bad press articles and bad search results, don't blame Google or Facebook or Twitter — consider blaming yourself," he added.

    Christopher Carbone covers technology and science for Fox News Digital. Tips or story leads: christopher.carbone@foxnews.com. Follow @christocarbone.

    California Dem Ted Lieu say he would ‘love to regulate’ speech, bemoans US Constitution that prohibits him

    California Democrat Ted Lieu bemoaned on Wednesday that though he would “love to be able to regulate the content of speech,” including that on Fox News, he can’t do it because of the U.S. Constitution.

    Lieu made the comments during an interview about the testimony of Google CEO Sundar Pichai at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, where he dismissed the allegations that the tech giant amplifies negative stories about Republican lawmakers, saying “if you want positive search results, do positive things."

    CNN host Brianna Keilar praised Lieu for his performance but asked whether other Democrats should have used the committee to press Google on conspiracy theories that spread on their platforms.

    “It's a very good point you make. I would love if I could have more than five minutes to question witnesses. Unfortunately, I don't get that opportunity,” Lieu said of the committee hearings.

    “However, I would love to be able to regulate the content of speech. The First Amendment prevents me from doing so, and that's simply a function of the First Amendment, but I think over the long run, it's better the government does not regulate the content of speech,” he continued.

    "I would love to be able to regulate the content of speech. The First Amendment prevents me from doing so, and that’s simply a function of the First Amendment, but I think over the long run, it’s better the government does not regulate the content of speech."

    — California Democrat Ted Lieu

    Lieu added that private companies should self-regulate their platforms and said the government shouldn’t interfere.

    After his remarks aired, Lieu came under fire on social media, prompting him to go on a Twitter spree to clarify his views, including that he would like to regulate Fox News.

    One Twitter user had accused him of being “a poster child for the tyranny.”

    Lieu insisted that he’s actually defending the First Amendment rather than showing his desire to regulate speech.

    “My whole point is that government officials always want to regulate speech, see e.g. the Republican Judiciary hearing alleging Google is biased against Republicans,” he wrote in another tweet. “But thank goodness the First Amendment prevents me, @POTUS and Republicans from doing so.”

    “I agree there are serious issues, but the speech issues are protected by the First Amendment,” the Democrat added. “Would I like to regulate Fox News? Yes, but I can't because the First Amendment stops me. And that's ultimately a good thing in the long run.”

    Lieu has become somewhat a foe of President Trump following his election, often taking to social media to throw jabs at the president.

    He’s among the Democrats who’s been flirting with the idea of impeaching Trump over the perceived collusion between Russia and the campaign. He also tried to kick-start earlier this year the impeachment process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.


    Lieu also raised eyebrows in summer after playing on House floor an audio recording of the crying migrant children separated from their families as part of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy.”

    Last year, Lieu was slammed for walking out of a moment of silence for victims of a mass shooting at a Texas church.

    Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.