This morning, Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the United States House Judiciary Committee, and fielded a wide variety of their questions on subjects like user privacy and Google’s Dragonfly project. Let’s take a minute to look at the numbers Pichai shared in his testimony.
The most hotly contended aspect of Google from the men and women of Congress seemed to be whether or not the average consumer understands that their information is collected and stored during their use of Google products.
To counter these concerns, Pichai repeatedly cited the company’s Privacy Checkup notices, which are sent out regularly, that remind users of Google’s available controls to disable collection and delete collected data. According to Pichai, 160 million users have completed the Privacy Checkup, including 20 million just in the last month.
Being Google’s core product, the members of Congress also spent a significant amount of their time asking questions about Google Search. Pichai tried to give Congress a clearer understanding of the effort that goes into designing Google Search’s algorithm, and the challenge that even a Google employee would face trying to manipulate search results.
To that end, he shared that Google Search currently indexes billions of web pages, using over 200 signals, and that approximately 15% of searches are queries that the engine has never received before. Also, to maintain the quality and fairness of searches, Google has 10000 search raters spread across all 50 states.
On the subject of the Dragonfly project, Google’s internal prototype for a potential search engine for China, Pichai clarified that there were at one point over 100 employees working on the project. For comparison, he also shared that Google’s Search Team consists of well over 1000 employees.
When asked about what legal requirements Google has in relation to leaks like one from earlier this year and the one discovered just this week for Google+, Pichai answered that under certain circumstances, the company is obligated to notify both users and US regulators within 72 hours of a data leak.
In regards to questions about use of Google’s advertising platform by Russian users to influence the 2016 US Presidential election, Pichai disclosed that Google found only 2 ad accounts linked to the Russian interference. These two accounts spent approximately $4700 on ads.