Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, is going to testify before the House Judiciary Committee today. He has submitted a written testimony to the House Committee ahead of the hearing.
Pichai points out in the testimony that there is no “political bias” within the company. “I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way. To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests”. He also talks about data security emphasizing that protecting the privacy and security of their users has always been an “essential mission” for the organization. Pichai adds how Google has been consistently putting in an enormous amount of work over the past years to bring “choice, transparency, and control” to its users.
Pichai also highlighted how users look up to Google for accurate and trusted information, and how they work very hard at Google to maintain the “integrity” of their products, in order to live up to their standards. The testimony further talks about Google’s contribution to the US economy and military, pointing out that despite Google’s expansion and growth into new markets, it will always have “American roots”.
Now, although the hearing titled “Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use, and Filtering Practices” will be focussed around discussions regarding the potential bias and need for transparency within Google, its infamous project Dragonfly will also almost certainly be discussed.
Google has been facing continued criticism for its censored Chinese search engine which was revealed earlier this year in a bombshell report by the Intercept. Yesterday, more than 60 NGOs as well as individuals including Edward Snowden, signed an open letter protesting against Google’s Project Dragonfly and its other plans for China.
“We are disappointed that Google in its letter of 26th October failed to address the serious concerns of human rights groups over Project Dragonfly”, reads the letter addressed to Pichai. It talks about how Google’s response along with other details about Project Dragonfly only intensifies the fear that Google may compromise its commitments to human rights to gain an access to the Chinese search market. The letter also sheds light on new details leaked to the media suggesting if Google launches Project Dragonfly then it would accelerate “repressive state censorship, surveillance, and other violations” affecting almost a billion people in China.
The letter also talks about how despite Google stating that it’s “not close” to launching a search product in China and that it’ll consult with key stakeholders before doing so, media reports say otherwise. The media reports based on an internal Google memo suggested that the project was in a ‘pretty advanced state’ and that the company had invested extensive resources for the development of this project.
“We welcome that Google has confirmed the company “takes seriously” its responsibility to
respect human rights. However, the company has so far failed to explain how it reconciles that responsibility with the company’s decision to design a product purpose-built to undermine the rights to freedom of expression and privacy”, reads the letter.