Sundar Pichai is set to appear before Congress tomorrow morning and face a broad spectrum of questions ranging from alleged political bias in Search to privacy concerns. Beforehand, the Google CEO will give written testimony, which has just been posted by the House Judiciary Committee.
Tomorrow’s hearing is officially titled “Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use, and Filtering Practices.” In recent weeks, Republicans have alleged that Search results are discriminating against conservative viewpoints. Beyond that, Google will likely face questions on privacy and other broader issues.
Pichai begins his statement by recapping his own personal history and how he joined Google 15 years, serving as its head for the past three.
Growing up in India, I have distinct memories of when my family got its first phone and our first television. Each new technology made a profound difference in our lives. Getting the phone meant that I could call ahead to the hospital to check that the blood results were in before I traveled 2 hours by bus to get them. The television, well, it only had one channel, but I couldn’t have been more thrilled by its arrival!
The CEO considers himself a “technology optimist,” and goes on to discuss the company’s 20 year history. He notes how Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google to “provide users with access to the world’s information,” a slight spin on the company’s founding mission.
Those experiences made me a technology optimist, and I remain one today. Not only because I believe in technology, but because I believe in people and their ability to use technology to improve their lives.
Pichai goes on to emphasize the company’s impact on the world, and how “Google is more than a search engine.” While not directly referenced, the next section is likely meant to address Google dropping out of Project Maven with the Department of Defense, while reportedly abiding by Chinese censorship laws to create a Search engine.
Even as we expand into new markets we never forget our American roots. It’s no coincidence that a company dedicated to the free flow of information was founded right here in the US. As an American company, we cherish the values and freedoms that have allowed us to grow and serve so many users. I am proud to say we do work, and we will continue to work, with the government to keep our country safe and secure.
He goes on to name various states where Google has a presence, how it partners to help veterans and military families, supports small business, and other quantifiable impacts.
Over the past year, we have supported more than 1.5 million American businesses. Over the past three, we have made direct contributions of $150 billion to the US economy, added more than 24,000 employees, and paid over $43 billion to US partners across Search, YouTube, and Android. These investments strengthen our communities and support thousands of American jobs.
Pichai next addresses privacy and security, with the expedited Google+ shutdown date likely not helping the company’s outlook. He reiterates support for privacy legislation at the federal level, similar to Europe’s GDPR.
Protecting the privacy and security of our users has long been an essential part of our mission.” We have invested an enormous amount of work over the years to bring choice, transparency, and control to our users. These values are built into every product we make.
The Google CEO closes by addressing the allegations of bias in Search, strongly noting:
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. We are a company that provides platforms for diverse perspectives and opinions—and we have no shortage of them among our own employees.
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