The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will be conducting a hearing on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election this week on September 5. Top executives in the tech industry including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will be testifying this hearing. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has, so far, declined to accept the Senate committee’s invitation.
Like last year, Google’s top lawyer, Kent Walker, the senior vice president of global affairs, will be testifying in place of Pichai. Google has not officially released a statement as to why Pichai or his boss, Alphabet CEO Larry Page, are not accepting the invitation.
This is a testing time for the world’s biggest tech companies amidst the many controversies and scandals surrounding them. Facebook has so far taken most of the brunt following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal in March. Google, however, has only recently been coming under more and more scrutiny thanks to scandals like the Mastercard tie-in, revealed by Bloomberg last week.
This makes it an odd decision for Pichai to decline his Washington D.C. invitation. Sending your lawyer to answer questions for you is not a good look at a time when how you look has never been more under the microscope. Talking to CNBC last week, Virginia SenatorMark Warner (Democrat), said that “there will be a lot more questions raised that could have been actually dealt with if they sent a senior decision-maker and not simply their counsel.”
Why did Sundar Pichai decline his invitation from senate?
It’s not clear why Pichai and Page have declined to testify – Google has, as of yet, failed to comment. The question, then, remains: why are Google executives scared of public scrutiny?