Google Must 'Immediately End' China Search Project: VP Pence

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In short: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday said Google must "immediately end" its work on Project Dragonfly, a widely reported endeavor aimed at making a censored version of Search for China. The VP described the controversial software as an "app that will strengthen their [China's] Communist censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers" in a speech at the Hudson Institute in Washington that saw him proclaim the Far Eastern country a massive threat to the U.S. intellectual property, with the 59-year-old once again criticizing Beijing's theft of American technologies.

Background: VP Pence's latest dig at Google comes shortly after the Justice Department's antitrust chief Makan Delrahim informed select Capitol Hill senators that the U.S. government may investigate Alphabet's subsidiary over antitrust concerns associated with its Android operating system. Google was already fined in excess of $5 billion by the European Commission over its anti-competitive Android practices this July and is currently also facing accusations of liberal Search bias in its home country. Additionally, the company declined to send any one of its top officials to Capitol Hill for a September hearing on election security organized by the Senate Intelligence Committee, prompting more harsh criticism from stateside lawmakers. Google CEO Sundar Pichai eventually traveled to Washington last week to hear complaints and concerns from various legislators but not much was likely achieved with the meetings given the lack of announcements that stemmed from them.

Impact: The pressure on Google continues to pile on as the company is still facing bipartisan scrutiny over a wide variety of affairs. Its insistence on sticking with Project Dragonfly despite employee activism and criticism from both aisles of the political spectrum might hence not bode well for the company in the future, though its leadership may yet cancel the initiative, especially as the massive trade war between Washington and Beijing wages on, bringing the relations between the world's two largest economies to a new 21st-century low.

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