Google CEO Sundar Pichai will, at last, testify before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday to answer questions about the company’s possible political bias and its controversial work with the Chinese government.
“Americans put their trust in big tech companies to honor freedom of speech and champion open dialogue, and it is Congress’ responsibility to the American people to make sure these tech giants are transparent and accountable in their practices,” committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, said in a committee press release.
The meeting was originally scheduled for Dec. 5 but was pushed back because of former president George H.W. Bush’s funeral.
Republican lawmakers are expected to grill Google about recent revelations that the tech giant’s employees debated burying conservative media outlets in the company’s search function as a response to President Donald Trump’s election. Leaked Google emails surfaced as recently as Monday night. Breitbart published emails showing that Google employees tried to block Breitbart from Google AdSense less than one month after President Donald Trump assumed the presidency.
Some public figures on the right have come down hard on Google. Republican Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar called on the Department of Justice to investigate Google Nov. 30, and Republican Missouri Sen.-elect Josh Hawley called for Google execs to explain themselves “under oath,” also on Nov. 30
The social media-focused hearing comes after Google employees are made headlines for a late November open letter protesting the company’s work on a censored Chinese search engine.
“Today the company accounts for nearly 90 percent of worldwide search traffic. … Unfortunately, recent reports suggest Google might not be wielding its vast power impartially,” committee member and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in the committee press release.
“Its business practices may have been affected by political bias. Additionally, reports claim the company is compromising its core principles by complying with repressive censorship mandates from China,” McCarthy continued.
Republican lawmakers also criticized Pichai for skipping a Sept. 5 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on social media and foreign election meddling. Facebook and Twitter executives testified, and an empty chair with a nameplate that said “Google” sat where the company’s representative would have been.
Google had been willing to send senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker to the Sept. 5 Senate hearing, but the committee said no, reported Politico. Walker submitted roughly five pages of written testimony to the committee despite the rejection.
President Donald Trump accused Google of bias against conservatives, including an Aug. 28 tweet calling Google search results “rigged.”
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