During Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing with Google CEO Sundar Pichai, his company’s alleged interest in restarting their work within Chinese government came up.
In August, The Intercept reported that Google was planning on launching a censored version of its search engine. The search engine would allegedly blacklist websites and search terms about democracy, religion, peaceful protests, and human rights.
Google’s first experiment in China ended in 2010 after they discovered an in-country cyberattack.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy brought up Google’s alleged plan during the hearing.
Right now, Google reportedly is developing a censored search engine with the Chinese communist party. It is also developing next generation technology on Chinese soil and in conjunction with Chinese national champions, like Tencent. Technology that the administration considers a national priority. Now, this news raises a troubling possibility that Google is being used to strengthen China’s system of surveillance, repression and control,” McCarthy stated.
Right this very second, China’s authoritarian system detains more than a million religious minorities in reeducation camps. Mr. Pichai, I urge you to reflect on that fact and on the promise your company made when it pulled out of the China market in 2010 and I applauded you for that move in 2010. Back then Google promised it would not censor its search results in China or compromise its commitment to a free and open Internet. In light of the recent events I think the American people deserve to know, [has] something changed and if so what?
When asked about Google’s plans, Pichai answered, “Right now, there are no plans for us to launch a search product in China.”
Pichai’s answers were very measured throughout the hearing, adding that he’d be “transparent” if they decide to pursue it. Further, he stated:
One of the things which is important to us as a company, we have a stated mission of providing users with information, and so we always — we think it’s in our duty to explore possibilities. To give users access to information … I have that commitment but as I said earlier on this we’ll be very thoughtful and we will engage widely as we make progress.
He was also grilled on perceived political bias that favored the left following a report that Google employees debating burying conservative media. (RELATED: Republican Matt Gaetz Grills Google CEO For Not Investigating Anti-Conservative Employee Bias)