E&C Republicans Hold Roundtable on the Dangers of Big Tech and the Fentanyl Poisoning Crisis

Jan 27, 2023
Big Tech

House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans held a roundtable this week to discuss the dangers Big Tech poses to American children amidst the fentanyl poisoning crisis. The members heard from and engaged in a discussion with the following panelists:

  • Amy Neville, Founder, Alexander Neville Foundation
  • Carrie Goldberg, Owner, C.A. Goldberg, PLLC
  • Laura Marquez-Garrett, Attorney, Social Media Victims Law Center
  • Sheriff John Nowels, Sheriff, Spokane County, WA

Below are highlights from the round table:

CHAIR RODGERS: “We’re here today because we’ve all heard from constituents about the dangers that they and their children face online. In many instances, big tech companies have failed to be good stewards on their platforms.

“We’ve seen numerous reports detailing how big tech encourages addictive behaviors in our children to keep them glued to their screens and fails to protect their users from malicious actors on their platforms like drug dealers—targeting vulnerable populations with counterfeit drugs laced with fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances. Every day more Americans die from illicit fentanyl-related poisoning.”

MS. NEVILLE: “One sunny day in June of 2020, I was preparing to take my 14-year-old son, Alexander, to the orthodontist. I went to his room to wake him, and there he laid, looking like he was just asleep on his bean bag chair—except he wasn’t sleeping. Alex was dead. His father tried CPR, the paramedics tried naloxone, but it was too late. Alex had taken a pill he believed to be OxyContin, turned out that it was a counterfeit pill made with fentanyl. That fake pill had enough fentanyl in it to kill four people. We only had him 14 years.”

MS. GOLDBERG: “What you’re going to hear today is that almost all fentanyl poisonings have three things in common. Number one: the purchaser was a teenager. Number two: they had no intention of buying fentanyl but thought that they were purchasing something recreational. And number three: the transaction occurred through the online platform Snapchat.”

MS. MARQUEZ-GARRETT: “We now represent more than 47 families whose children have been harmed or have died because of fentanyl poisoning. 43 of those 47 children are dead. Almost half of those children were under the age of 18, as young as the age of 13.”

SHERIFF NOWELS: “Social media and electronic communication are a significant tool that our drug traffickers are using to impact our communities negatively. We have had to make significant investment in law enforcement to keep up with technology.

“We are finding as time goes on that there are more and more online ways to communicate and distribute drugs than we can even keep up with.

“We need help to combat this. Our drug dealers are all-too-often allowed to operate in secrecy. This is a significant issue in every community in this country. We need help to hold people accountable who are poisoning our children.”

Check out these tweets from Energy and Commerce Committee members who participated in the roundtable:

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