Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) on Wednesday during a hearing slammed Google CEO Sundar Pichai for the company’s refusal to help the Pentagon build data cloud infrastructure, yet continuing to work with the Communist Chinese Party.
Buck noted that Pichai and other Big Tech CEOs have enjoyed the freedom to succeed under America’s capitalist system, but that Google has worked against the U.S. military that secured that freedom, when in 2018 it refused to work on the Pentagon’s JEDI program to help the U.S. military integrate its data.
“This is the same U.S. military that fights for our freedoms and stands as a force for good across the globe. This is the same soldiers, sailors, and airmen that sacrifice their lives to ensure you have the freedom to build your company…unlike in Communist China,” Buck said.
Buck also noted that the former Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said the Chinese military was directly benefitting from Google’s work.
He said he wondered whether Google’s policies were aligned with the Chinese government, which imprisons Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps, forces slaves to work in sweatshops, suppresses free speech in Hong Kong, lied on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, uses technology platforms to spy on its own people, enforces draconian security law, and has a corporate espionage policy to “steal whatever can’t be produced domestically.”
“These values that allow Google to work with the Chinese military but not the U.S. military help to explain why Google wouldn’t think about blatantly stealing a competitor’s product, right down to the watermark, without any hint of attribution,” Buck said.
Buck said Google took advantage of the company Genius, which had relied on its search engine to build its brand and compete, and misappropriated its website’s content. “Your company, which advertises itself as a doorway to freedom, took advantage of this small company, all but extinguishing Genius’s freedom to compete.”
“I question to you Mr. Pichai, do you think that Google could get away with following China’s corporate espionage playbook if you didn’t have a monopolistic advantage in the market?” Buck asked.
Pichai responded Google recently signed “a big project” with the Pentagon on cybersecurity and has a project with the Navy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. He said Google had a “very limited presence in China,” and called the issue with Genius a “dispute.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) later in the hearing said Pichai’s assertion that Google does not help the Chinese military was “deceptive.”
“Google works with many of the entities that work with the Chinese military in common collaboration,” he said.
“Just one example would be Tsinghua University, where Jeff Dean, who is head of Google AI served on the computer science advisory committee for the university, and then the university takes nearly $15 million from China’s Central Military Commission,” he said.
“Even if you don’t literally show up at the offices of the Chinese military, if you’re all showing up at the same place, working together on AI, that would lead to my concern,” he added.