Google CEO faces tough questions in Congress about bias, censorship

Google CEO faces tough questions in Congress about bias, censorship

Dec. 11 (UPI) — Google CEO Sundar Pichai will testify before Congress Tuesday to answer what are expected to be tough questions about potential biases in search results and censorship in China.

Pichai will be asked about Google re-entering China with a search engine that censors anti-government content.

Pichai will appear at 10 a.m. EST before the House Committee on the Judiciary.

Panel Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlattee, R-Va., said have people put their trust in tech companies to honor freedom of speech and champion open dialogue.

“However, the technology behind online services like social media and Internet search engines can also be used to suppress particular viewpoints and manipulate public opinion,” Goodlatte said in a statement.

Pichai could also be asked about privacy and how Google handles personal data — the same questions executives at Twitter and Facebook faced from lawmakers earlier this year.

President Donald Trump has accused Google and other tech companies of pushing a liberal bias, suppression and censorship in the past. In August, he said search results for news were “rigged for me and others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD.”

“I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way,” the India-born Pichai said in prepared remarks. “To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests. We are a company that provides platforms for diverse perspectives and opinions — and we have no shortage of them among our own employees.”

Ultimately, testimony from Google and other tech majors could change the way Silicon Valley is regulated. Pichai and Larry Page, who leads Google parent company Alphabet, did not appear in the Senate earlier this year when they were called for a hearing. Senators made their feelings known by putting empty chairs with the executives’ names on them in the room.

“[Google] has been desperately avoiding oversight,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said. “In effect, they wanted to avoid the spotlight and leave it to Facebook, which has been their M.O. They just try to keep their heads down and avoid any scrutiny.”

Pichai is likely to be asked about a new privacy concern the company revealed Monday — that data of 52 million users may have been accessible to developers on its Google+ social network, which will be deactivated in April.

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