Google CEO Sundar Pichai will meet in private with Republican lawmakers on Friday to discuss issues including its work in China and alleged political bias, reports the Wall Street Journal. The meeting was organized by House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy, who has accused Google of “controlling the internet” by boosting negative news stories about conservatives in its search results, despite the company’s denials.
The WSJ reports that Pichai also plans to appear at a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled to take place in November after the mid-term elections.
Pichai told the newspaper that “I look forward to meeting with members on both sides of the aisle, answering a wide range of questions, and explaining our approach. These meetings will continue Google’s long history of engaging with Congress, including testifying seven times to Congress this year.”
A vocal opponent of net neutrality, McCarthy tweeted earlier this month that “an invite will be on its way” to Google, which he accused in the same tweet of making a “silent donation” to an unnamed left-wing group to stop Trump; working with Russia and China to censor the Internet even though it cancelled a U.S. military contract and ignoring a Senate hearing.
McCarthy told the WSJ that “Google has a lot of questions to answer about reports of bias in its search results, violations of user privacy, anticompetitive behavior and business dealings with repressive regimes like China.”
As an example of what he claims to be Google’s anti-conservative bias, McCarthy previously cited search results that listed “Nazism” under the California Republican Party’s ideologies. Google blamed vandalism on Wikipedia for the descriptor, which appeared in an information box, and quickly removed it.
Though McCarthy did not specify what contract he was referring to in his tweet, it may have been Project Maven, an aerial drone imaging program that provided artificial intelligence to the Department of Defense. Google reportedly decided not to renew the contract when it expires because of ethical concerns and employee backlash.
In August, however, sources told the Intercept that Google is working on a version of its search engine for China, code-named Project Dragonfly, that would adhere to the government’s censorship regulations. This prompted bipartisan outcry and more employee backlash, including the resignation of senior research scientist Jack Poulson. Poulson told the Intercept that about five of Google’s employees have resigned over Project Dragonfly, which he says represents “the forfeiture of our public human rights commitments.”
As part of the Republican Party’s onslaught against what it perceives to be political bias on social media, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will also meet with state attorneys general to discuss social media’s alleged suppression of conservative users.
TechCrunch has contacted Google for comment.