Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the US congress on Tuesday that the search engine giant never gets carried away by “political bias” and “provides platforms for diverse perspectives and opinions.” Pichai’s explanation came during the congressional hearing over Google’s privacy issues and its alleged bias against the conservatives.
Pichai, an alumnus from IIT Kahargpur, faced immense scrutiny from Republican as well as Democratic senate members as he tried to put forward the best defense possible for his company. According to reports, the hearing had few heated moments but the overall proceeding was non-controversial one.
Below mentioned are some of the top quotes and remarks from the congressional hearing.
- Several Republican members alleged that Google manipulated search results to influence the election outcomes, with one lawmaker quoting internal mails from a Google executive alleging that she tried to influence the Latino votes in important states during 2016 elections.
- Pichai denied the allegation as he claimed that the concerned executive may have done it under her own initiative and said that the company never encourages such practices and policies.
- “Google could well elect the next president,” said Texas Congressman Lamar Smith, claiming that a liberal bias was deeply entrenched in Google’s algorithm.
- Democratic member Zoe Lofgren commented that she couldn’t help but wonder how Google Images throws the picture of President Donald Trump whenever she typed the word “idiot.”
- Replying to Lofgren’s comment, Pichai said that search results are determined after Google algorithm picks up 200 different signals based on various factors and the company does not manually intervene in this process.
- Several lawmakers also wanted to know how Google went by in collecting data on its platform as well as through third party apps. They also wanted to know how Google exactly used this data and whether users are informed that their data is being collected.
- Pichai tried to address lawmakers concerns by claiming that users are given choice to turn off their location services and also they are allowed to agree or disagree to data collection. However, lawmakers were evidently not quite amused by Pichai’s reply.
Sundar Pichai became the latest high profile tech CEO to appear before the U.S. lawmakers, after similar grilling exercise was carried out for Facebook and Twitter CEOs. These congressional hearings in a way reflect the growing concerns over data privacy issues and social media being weponized by vested interests to influence the election results.