Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai is scheduled to be grilled by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, December 5, the legislative body announced. Outgoing House majority leader Kevin McCarthy who also chairs the said panel confirmed the development, clearly stating that Republican representatives will be questioning Google in regards to recent allegations of the company's liberal bias. Internet technologies are capable of being misused for the purpose of suppressing certain worldviews and manipulating the public, Rep. Goodlatte said. The hearing will take place at 10 AM local time and will also tackle the subject of transparency in Silicon Valley, at least as far as Google is concerned.
Rep. Goodlatte explained Google yields "great influence over what millions of people can and cannot find on the Internet" and should hence have a responsibility to do whatever it can to ensure such content is as neutral as possible. In addition to bias and opaque policies, the Republican majority on the Committee is planning to tackle the issue of Google's rising ambitions in China during the hearing, the panel confirmed.
Background: Google has been avoiding answering concrete questions on political bias accusations for some time now, with its top executives repeatedly declining to attend congressional hearings over the matter. The cat-and-mouse game escalated to the point that the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee literally left an empty chair with Google's name on it during an early September hearing on election security, with a number of its members blasting the company for not sending a high-ranked representative to attend the gathering.
The right aisle of the political spectrum in the United States has been accusing Google of harboring a liberal bias for several years now and even President Trump echoed such criticism on numerous occasions. The Mountain View, California-based firm repeatedly dismissed those allegations as frivolous, claiming it doesn't silence conservative voices and designs all of its products and services without an agenda to advocate for any particular worldview. Many GOP politicians remain skeptical about those claims, especially in light of a recently surfaced video that shows a late 2016 staff meeting wherein top Google officials including Mr. Pichai and Sergey Brin are openly mourning the Hillary Clinton's loss in the last presidential race in the country.
Google also found itself under fire from both major political parties after an early August report that revealed the existence of Project Dragonfly, a secretive initiative aimed at launching a censored version of Google Search in China that would aid the communist regime in enforcing its oppressive policies. The timing of the reveal was also highly inopportune for Alphabet's subsidiary as it came shortly after Google refused to renew its Project Maven contract with the Pentagon, declining to continue working toward weaponizing artificial intelligence in collaboration with the federal government.
Impact: While it remains to be seen what Mr. Pichai's strategy for the Wednesday hearing will entail, the happening likely won't help Google stop the negative publicity it's recently been attracting on a variety of fronts. The Republican House is still unlikely to push for any anti-Google legislation in the near future seeing how it's being replaced by a Democratic majority in January following the GOP's mid-term election loss from early November.