Google suppressing conservative voices, hiding ‘good’ news
Trump's fight against Google is making its
way down Pennsylvania Avenue to Congress.
lawmakers are ramping up their scrutiny of the tech giant
after Trump accused Google of political bias and questioned
whether regulators should take a closer look at its market
added fuel to the fire on Wednesday by skipping a Senate
Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence
committee sought top executives from each company to testify
and successfully secured commitments from Facebook Chief
Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
offered to send Kent Walker, its vice president of global
affairs. Committee ChairmanRichard
rejected that offer in hopes of securing a more senior
executive. Google ended up only submitting written
testimony from Walker.
move infuriated lawmakers, who took turns blasting Google
during the hearing, which included an empty chair.
said that he was “disappointed that Google decided against
sending the right senior-level executive,” to the hearing.
anger was bipartisan. Sen.Mark
Warner(Va.), the top
Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, piled on in his
deeply disappointed that Google — one of the most
influential digital platforms in the world — chose not
to send its own top corporate leadership to engage this
committee,” Warner said.
used the incident to bring attention to their own issues
Rubio (R-Fla.) speculated that Google didn’t
attend either “because they’re arrogant” or because they
didn’t want to answer hard questions about their business
dealings with China, an issue he has hammered the company
slammed Google for ending programs with the Pentagon while
keeping ties with Huawei, a Chinese telecom company that
U.S. intelligence agencies have raised security concerns
Google didn’t send a senior executive today because they’ve
recently taken actions such as terminating cooperation they
had with the American military," Cotton said, "programs like
artificial intelligence which are designed not just to
protect our troops and to help them fight and win our
country’s wars but to protect civilians as well."
they didn’t send a witness to answer these questions because
there is no answer to these questions,” he added.
experts said Google can expect more trouble ahead and worry
the company missed an important chance to publicly defend
is going to see long-term pain because of this,” said
Christian Hertenstein, vice president of the right-leaning
political strategy group Definers.
highlighted GOP concerns over China.
avoiding the committee is only going to raise suspicion on
how they operate in China,” he added.
hearing largely crystallized in a public setting the
building frustration on Capitol Hill and in the Trump
administration with one of Silicon Valley's titans.
and other tech and social media companies are already taking
heat from Trump over claims of political bias.
the denials, Republicans see a potent political issue and
one that resonates with their base. Attorney GeneralJeff
Sessionslast week said he
would convene a meeting with state officials to discuss
McCarthy(R-Calif.), who is
seen as a potential Speaker if Republicans retain the House,
has also been a prominent critic of what he sees as efforts
to silence conservative voices online.
could also face a serious challenge on the regulatory front.
said Google and other companies may have a “very
antitrust situation,” but stopped short of saying
whether he thought they should be broken up.
those remarks, Sen.Orrin
Hatch(R-Utah) called on
the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Google
over its market dominance.
agency has not responded to Hatch's calls. But the FTC is
launching a new round of hearings this month on competition
and consumer protections, which could touch on a host of
concerns involving Google and other tech companies from
their handling of customer data to market share.
domestic scrutiny also comes at a difficult time for Google,
which is already facing a regulatory assault in Europe.
Earlier this year, the company was fined a record $5 billion
by the European Union for antitrust violations involving its
many tech watchers, Google's business ties with China could
pose a particular problem. They see an issue that can unite
lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. Democrats have
also raised national security concerns about Chinese
companies, including ZTE and Huawei.
is unclear though what steps lawmakers will take next.
Energy and Commerce Committee ChairmanGreg
Wednesday's hearings told The
Washington Post he did not want an "adversarial"
relationship with Google, but floated the possibility of a
subpoena if the company did not willingly come and testify.
tech sector lobbying source suggested Google could be
vulnerable through reforms to Section 230 of the
Communications and Decency Act.
provision was established to keep internet companies from
being liable for what users post on their sites, however,
some lawmakers have begun to talk about making changes to
it. Their ranks include Sen.Ron
Wyden(D-Ore.), who helped
draft the law and has long defended it.
just want to be clear, as the author of Section 230, the
days when these [platforms] are considered neutral are
over," Wyden said
during a hearing in August.