Distrust for Google Widens
CBJ –There has been no shortage of criticisms for Google, the world’s largest search engine, and one of the largest and most influential companies in the world. However, the many criticisms have been recognized by the U.S. government, which is now looking for answers to a number of questions.
U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy kicked off a congressional grilling of Google CEO Sundar Pichai by noting a “widening gap of distrust” between tech companies and the American people.
McCarthy, a California Republican, asked whether tech companies are “serving as instruments of freedom or instruments of control” in the U.S. and beyond.
Pichai’s appearance comes after he angered members of a Senate panel in September by declining their invitation to testify about foreign governments’ manipulation of online services to sway U.S. elections. Pichai’s no-show at that hearing was marked by an empty chair for Google alongside the Facebook and Twitter executives who did appear.
Pichai went to Washington later in September to mend fences, but it seems to have been too little too late.
In October, Google announced it was shutting down its long-shunned Plus social network following its disclosure of a flaw discovered in March that could have exposed some personal information of as many as 500,000 people.
Lawmakers want Google to explain its failure to reveal the breach.
On Monday, the company said it was accelerating its plans to shutter Plus after discovering a privacy flaw that inadvertently exposed the names, email addresses, ages and other personal information of 52.5 million users last month. The service will now go dark in April instead of August, as previously announced.
President Donald Trump has accused Google of rigging the results of its dominant search engine to suppress conservative viewpoints and highlight coverage from media that he says distribute “fake news.” It’s no doubt going to create some questions for the Google CEO by Republicans.
Congress is being pressed to add stricter limits and privacy protections around the big tech companies’ collection of data.