In an article discussing Google’s refusal to send a sufficiently high-level executive to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bloomberg notes that the company’s refusal to work with Congress may result in harsher scrutiny and regulation in the future.
In an article titled “Google’s Empty Chair Ratchets Up Pressure From Congress,” Bloomberg notes that Google’s refusal to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee could cause problems for the tech company in the future. While Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twiter CEO Jack Dorsey appeared before the Committee yesterday to discuss the issues their platforms face in terms of election interference, Google’s absence from the hearing was notable and commented on during the event.
Adam Goldberg, a partner at the Washington, D.C.-based communications firm Trident DMG, commented on Google’s absence stating: “After investing so much in lobbying the last several years, this is bizarre. If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu, and Congress looks hungry.”
The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), commented on Google’s absence at the time stating: “I’m deeply disappointed that Google – one of the most influential digital platforms in the world – chose not to send its own top corporate leadership to engage this committee,” he said. “Given its size and influence, I would have thought the leadership at Google would want to demonstrate how seriously it takes these challenges and to lead this important public discussion.”
Google’s glaring absence occurs as lawmakers apply increasing pressure on the tech giants to explain Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, and all eyes are now on the upcoming midterm elections in November. The companies are also being accused by some Republicans of anti-conservative bias and by politicians of both parties for abusing their dominant platform positions.
Steeped in an antitrust fight in Europe, Google now is facing calls from U.S. lawmakers in both parties for regulatory enforcement action. The Senate hearing comes a week after President Donald Trump singled out the search engine, accusing it of tweaking news results against him, although he later backtracked claims he was demanding regulation against the company.
Jason Kint, the head of the publishing group Digital Content Next, commented on Google also stating: “It’s indicative of Google’s both dominance and arrogance. They think they can blow off the U.S. Senate without consequences.”
Bloomberg further noted that Google higher-ups have always appeared to avoid politics when possible:
[Larry] Page’s no-show is not a surprise for people who watch the company. He relegated all oversight of Google to Pichai in 2015 after the formation of Alphabet, an umbrella company for his interests beyond the web business. Even when he was Google CEO, Page deferred political matters to Eric Schmidt, the former chairman who stepped down from the company last year. And Page has shrunken further from the public spotlight since Alphabet began; his last public interview was in the fall of 2015.
[Sundar] Pichai’s absence is more troubling for the search giant
Bloomberg further notes that Google believes they have done all they need to in order to comply with the Senate’s demands having sent their legal and policy chief Kent Walker to discuss some public concerns with them:
Pichai, a one-time product manager who rose quickly through the executive ranks, is known for his diplomacy internally. But he often avoids head-on controversy, steering clear of weighing in publicly on thorny issues the company has faced, such as ideological bias, inappropriate content on YouTube and plans for China. He acquiesced earlier this year to demands from some employees that the company end its cloud contract with the Defense Department, which some people at Google interpreted as an aversion to conflict, said the person familiar with the company.
Read the full article in Bloomberg here.