President Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that the government will open a probe into Google to see if there is any truth to the accusations made by one of Silicon Valley's most influential conservative, Peter Thiel.
During the National Conservatism Conference which was held on Sunday, Thiel requested the FBI and the CIA to investigate the company for abetting the Chinese military. He believes that the search giant has been so thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence that it has decided to willingly work for the Chinese army since it has already been hacked through a backdoor.
In 2018, after receiving flak from its employees for helping with the development of military weapons, Google decided to not go ahead with a Pentagon cloud-computing project. The search giant also said that it cannot allow the military to use its artificial intelligence solutions to make weapons.
Thiel says that it's treacherous of Google to work with the Chinese government instead of the U.S. Defense Department. He accused the super left-wing elements within Google of forcing the company to pull out of the aforementioned program, called Project Maven as he believes they consider China to be superior to the U.S.
Thiel is the highest-profile Trump supporter in Silicon Valley. He co-founded PayPal and also sits on the board of Facebook. He is yet to show any proof that backs his claims against Google. His sentiments were shared by one of the co-founders of his company Palantir, Joe Londsdale, who accused Google of not being patriotic. Furthermore, he claimed that China and Google's camaraderie is not a hidden fact in Silicon Valley. However, like Thiel, he was unable to provide any evidence.
A Google spokeswoman, Riva Sciuto has denied the accusations made by Thiel and further clarification was provided by the company's vice president for public policy, Karan Bhatia, who said during a hearing this week that there is no evidence of a breach.
Google has been in a similar situation earlier as well. The company was accused by Senator Josh Hawley for going against the U.S. interest to get more business in China. Later on, the search giant cleared its position during a White House meeting.
Trump hasn't exactly said what he plans to do about Google, but to begin with, he will have agencies look into the matter. The President already has an axe to grind with the company, as he had previously blamed it for muting his conservative supporters and attempting to rig the U.S. elections.
Google in particular and tech companies in general are already under intense security from the government. A month ago it was reported that the Justice Department is gearing up for an antitrust investigation against the Internet powerhouse.
Google has also received heavy criticism for working on a search engine called Dragonfly tailored according to the requirements of the Chinese government. In a recent Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, Karan Bhatia confirmed that the project has been shelved and the company has no plans to revive the project. He also said that compared to other tech companies, Google has a very small footprint in China.
The Trump administration is particularly worried about Google's business operations in China because of the fears that its AI technology might get stolen as it can be misused by spies. However, Google, like Facebook and Apple, cannot completely withdraw from China as it's a lucrative market and the search giant wouldn't want to close this door of opportunities on itself.