Google CEO to Tell Lawmakers Tech Giant Operates 'Without Political Bias'

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Thursday said there were no plans to launch search in China, but wouldn't promise House lawmakers the company wouldn't develop a censored search engine there.

Stating that "the muting of conservative voices by internet platforms has intensified especially during the presidency of Donald Trump", Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) asked Pichai what he was doing about conservative individuals and organizations having "their pro-Trump content tagged as hate speech or had their content reduced in search results" or "enforcement of immigration laws has been tagged as hate speech as well".

The hearing is Pichai's first public testimony before Congress.

"There's got to be an internal investigation at Google to determine whether or not their bias is impacting the search outcomes", he said.

But drawing up regulations governing that area of search results would be more likely to raise First Amendment issues, making them even more hard to impose. A handful of Tibetan and Uighur activists gathered in the hall outside the hearing, where they held a banner that stated "stop Google censorship". Jones said, calling the company "absolutely the most evil corporation on Earth". King said he wanted to look at employees' social media and see if they're biased.

Pichai said Google has already had independent groups evaluate the search algorithms.

A prototype for the censored search engine was created to blacklist broad categories of information about human rights, democracy, and peaceful protest.

"Not by default, " Pichai answered. "Can Google track me when I move?" In terms of Gmail, the company stores emails, but it does not have access to that data unless users consent or are the subject of criminal investigations. One model for lawmakers may be Europe, where new rules governing data and privacy went into effect this year. Some seemed unaware that a person's IP address could also reveal his or her location or that a phone without service likely could not transmit data.

When asked whether Pichai would rule out "launching a tool for surveillance and censorship in China" while he is CEO, Pichai declined to answer with a yes or no.

But Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a signatory to the letter, said Pichai must think again. I just did that.

"The American people deserve to know what kinds of information they are not getting when they are doing a search on the internet", Goodlatte said.

'Our algorithms have no notion of political sentiment, ' Pichai said in defense of Google's search engine, which is the most used in the world. Looming over the tech industry is the possibility of government regulation meant to protect people's data and a deeper look into whether very big companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook need to be broken up.

Pichai dodged questions about reports that Google was planning to provide a search engine in China that would allow the Chinese government to censor results.

He told the committee on Tuesday, local time, that he would be "fully transparent" with policymakers if the company brings search products to China.

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