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On Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) sent letters to the Chief Executive Officers of PfizerJohnson & Johnson, and Merck & Co., Inc. demanding information on how and to what extent the Executive Branch has coerced and colluded with pharmaceutical companies and other intermediaries to censor speech. The Committee is investigating the companies for the role they may have played in this censorship regime.

According to documents obtained by the Committee, personnel from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck were invited in December 2020 to meet with personnel from other pharmaceutical companies, Executive Branch agencies, and Stanford University to discuss “a coalition to respond to COVID-19 vaccine disinformation.” The entanglement of Executive Branch agencies, third-party organizations, and technology companies to moderate speech-related content online raises questions about the extent to which these actions affected the civil liberties of American citizens. Other reporting indicates that the pharmaceutical industry pressured social media platforms to take down posts related to producing low-cost generic vaccines.

Read the letter to Pfizer:

“The Committee on the Judiciary is conducting oversight of how and to what extent the Executive Branch has coerced and colluded with companies and other intermediaries to censor speech. Certain entities, including pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, may have played a role in this censorship regime by determining what types of content constituted ‘misinformation’—sometimes at the behest of or with the encouragement of the federal government. Whether directly or indirectly, a government-approved or -facilitated censorship regime poses a grave threat to the First Amendment and American civil liberties. Accordingly, as part of the Committee’s constitutional oversight obligations, we write to request relevant information and documents.

“According to documents obtained by the Committee, personnel from Pfizer were invited in December 2020 to meet with personnel from other pharmaceutical companies, Executive Branch agencies, and Stanford University to discuss ‘a coalition to respond to COVID-19 vaccine disinformation.’ The entanglement of Executive Branch agencies, third-party organizations, and technology companies to moderate speech-related content online raises questions about the extent to which these actions affected the civil liberties of American citizens.

1. All documents and communications, from January 1, 2020 to the present, between or among any employee, contractor, or agent of Pfizer and the Executive Branch of the United States Government referring or relating to the moderation, deletion, suppression, restriction, demonetization, or reduced circulation of content; the accuracy or truth of content; or the attribution of content to the source or participant in a foreign malign or state-sponsored influence operation.

2. All documents and communications, from January 1, 2020 to the present, between or among any employee, contractor, or agent of Pfizer and any technology company, including social media companies, referring or relating to the moderation, deletion, suppression, restriction, demonetization, or reduced circulation of content; the accuracy or truth of content; or the attribution of content to the source or participant in a foreign malign or state-sponsored influence operation.

3. A list of employees, contractors, or agents of Pfizer, along with their current and prior titles, who, from January 1, 2020 to the present, have communicated with the Executive Branch of the United States Government regarding the moderation, deletion, suppression, restriction, demonetization, or reduced circulation of content; the accuracy or truth of content; or the attribution of content to the source or participant in a foreign malign or state-sponsored influence operation.

4. A list of employees, contractors, or agents for Pfizer, along with their current and prior titles, who, from January 1, 2020 to the present, have communicated with any technology company, including social media companies, regarding the moderation, deletion, suppression, restriction, demonetization, or reduced circulation of content; the accuracy or truth of content; or the attribution of content to the source or participant in a foreign malign or state-sponsored influence operation.

5. A list of all grants, contracts, or any funds received by Pfizer, from January 1, 2020 to the present, from the United States Government, as well as any documents and communications referring or relating to those grants, contracts, or funds, related to Pfizer’s efforts concerning the moderation, deletion, suppression, restriction, demonetization, or reduced circulation of content; the accuracy or truth of content; or the attribution of content to the source or participant in a foreign malign or state-sponsored influence operation.

“Please produce all documents and information as soon as possible but not later than 5:00 p.m. on July 31, 2023. In addition, please treat these discovery obligations as ongoing and applicable to any information generated after receipt of this letter.

“Furthermore, this letter serves as a formal request to preserve all existing and future records and materials relating to the topics addressed in this letter. You should construe this preservation notice as an instruction to take all reasonable steps to prevent the destruction or alteration, whether intentionally or negligently, of all documents, communications, and other information, including electronic information and metadata, that are or may be responsive to this congressional inquiry. This instruction includes all electronic messages sent using your official and personal accounts or devices, including records created using text messages, phone-based message applications, or encryption software.”

Read the letter to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla here.

Read the letter to Johnson & Johnson CEO Joaquin Duato here.

Read the letter to Merck & Co., Inc. CEO Robert Davis here.

Author: Press Release

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