Google Facing Criticism in Washington

Google has come under fire in Washington in recent weeks from Republicans and Democrats alike. Last week, the company decided not to send a top official to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, irritating senators including Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-Va.). It also has been probed by Members of Congress for answers to reports that it may be considering a search engine in China that would censor websites and terms in cooperation with the Chinese government and Communist Party. Sens. Warner and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) led colleagues in sending a letter that said, “We appreciate your prompt reply to this inquiry, including any views that you are prepared to share as to how this reported development can be reconciled with Google’s unofficial motto, ‘Don’t be evil.’”

This week flames were fanned further by the release of an internal Google video obtained by Breitbart showing top company leaders expressing dismay at the results of the 2016 election. For example, Sergey Brin, a Google co-founder, said that he was deeply offended and that what had happened was incongruous with the company’s values. In addition, earlier in the week, FOX News host Tucker Carlson reported on an email his team had obtained that appeared to show a Google employee attempting to help Democrats in the election.

'“Oh, 'say tech defenders,' don't worry. These are businesses. They exist to make money not to push political agendas,”' said Carlson during his show. “Well, it turns out that's not true and we can prove it.”

Responding to reports on the Breitbart-obtained video, a Google spokesperson said, “Nothing was said at that meeting, or any other meeting, to suggest that any political bias ever influences the way we build or operate our products. To the contrary, our products are built for everyone, and we design them with extraordinary care to be a trustworthy source of information for everyone, without regard to political viewpoint.”

However, others are unconvinced. In a tweet, PragerU, which has been in a protracted viewpoint censorship battle with Google’s YouTube, said, “Could the political bias shown by Google’s leadership team have anything to do with the fact that over 80 of our videos are restricted because they present a conservative point of view?”

For his part, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) declared in a tweet, “Google •Claims to be fair, but gave a ‘silent donation’ to a left-wing group to stop Trump •Works w/ China/Russia to censor the internet, but cancelled a contract with our military •Ignores Senate hearing. It’s time for @Google to answer some ?’s An invite will be on its way.”

Learn more about NRB’s work to shine light on viewpoint censorship by Google and others in Big Tech at www.internetfreedomwatch.org.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: September 14, 2018

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