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posted by martyb on Wednesday December 12 2018, @02:14PM   Printer-friendly
from the LMGTFY dept.

Google's Sundar Pichai was grilled on privacy, data collection, and China during congressional hearing

Google's CEO testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday where lawmakers grilled him on a wide range of issues, including potential political bias on its platforms, its plans for a censored search app in China and its privacy practices.

This is the first time Pichai has appeared before Congress since Google declined to send him or Alphabet CEO Larry Page to a hearing on foreign election meddling earlier this year. That slight sparked anger among senators who portrayed Google as trying to skirt scrutiny.

[...] Tuesday's hearing was titled "Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use, and Filtering Practices" and many representatives posed questions on whether or not Google's search results were biased against conservative points of view.

[...] Another topic that came up multiple times was Google's plan to launch a censored search engine in China. The Intercept first reported details of the project over the summer, which would block search results for queries that the Chinese government deemed sensitive, like "human rights" and "student protest" and link users' searches to their personal phone numbers. [...] "Right now, we have no plans to launch search in China," Pichai answered, adding that access to information is "an important human right."

Also at Bloomberg and The Hill.

See also: Sundar Pichai had to explain to Congress why Googling 'idiot' turns up pictures of Trump
Google CEO admits company must better address the spread of conspiracy theories on YouTube
Alex Jones, Roger Stone crash Google CEO hearing
Monopoly man watches disapprovingly as Congress yells at Google's CEO

Previously: Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal
Uproar at Google after News of Censored China Search App Breaks
"Senior Google Scientist" Resigns over Chinese Search Engine Censorship Project
Google Suppresses Internal Memo About China Censorship; Eric Schmidt Predicts Internet Split
Leaked Transcript Contradicts Google's Denials About Censored Chinese Search Engine
Senators Demand Answers About Google+ Breach; Project Dragonfly Undermines Google's Neutrality

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 12 2018, @03:06PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 12 2018, @03:06PM (#773463)

    But the urge to vomit everytime a Congressperson spoke was too great.

    Now looking back at that, I'm wondering whether that compulsion is based on some brain fuckage pumped into my noggin' over the years by mainstream news. Like maybe it is an induced subconscious to divert people away from watching government through any lense by theirs.

    Or maybe it's just I'm reliving a thousand moments where I had to resist the urge to smack the fuck out of high school drama queens who spend their day wasting everybodies time as "project managers". Pretty much exactly like listening to Congress isn't it?

    In any case, thanks martyb for suffering on our behalf.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Wednesday December 12 2018, @04:08PM (3 children)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday December 12 2018, @04:08PM (#773490) Journal

    I subbed it, not martyb.

    While I ripped a story from CNBC, I did watch about 20 minutes or so of the testimony. It was quite bad, and even worse when you fact checked some of the "specifics" Congressmen had brought up (about bias against conservatives and such). Who can forget the cringe "my granddaughter saw an attack ad with my face on it when she was playing a game on her iPhone... err, maybe it was an Android" moment? Other moments have slipped my mind but showed that those Congressmen were not tech savvy. Now, I don't expect Average Joe to be tech savvy. But these people gathered together to grill the GOOG man, and each of them presumably have their own staff to do research on their behalf. They can also read from written notes or a script if they think they are going to forget the details.

    What I found myself thinking was that any one of these Congressmen could have contacted Andrew Orlowski, that rabidly anti-GOOG and anti-Wikipedia guy over at The Register, and they could have gotten his help to compile much juicier questions. Skip the pleasantries and the "oh, I bet you would have never imagined you would be sitting here today when you were a poor kid in India" crap. Just launch straight into the questions. Maybe get one of your colleagues to cede their time to you so you can ask more questions. Do all that and you could have witnessed a grilling way beyond any intensity seen. And unlike Alex Jones shouting outside, Sundar has to at least pretend to address the questions.

    Another dumb thing: Congressmen taking their whole allotted time to deliver a political statement rather than ask any questions. Guess what, geniuses, you can post that crap on your House webpage. Or you can go on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, or the Sunday morning shows in order to make your point (even BBC would carry it if you approached them). What you need to do at the hearing is get Sundar talking as much as possible, about as many topics as possible, with no rest. And there has been some speculation that Sundar's "we have no plans to launch search in China" was either a lie or deceptive. Did anyone even ask if Google had such plans, say, 6 months ago?

    I guess I did learn a couple of things, one being that Dragonfly is (supposedly) dead. I had thought Google was still planning to go ahead with it. I think Google leadership need to realize that although China is a big market, there is no easy entry into it anymore. You'd have to make big compromises to get in, angering Western users and employees, face firmly established players such as Baidu, and always be at risk of being kicked out. It's time to write off China unless you have a new approach, such as a non-political driverless car service, or until China's political system crumbles (which could take decades, if it ever even happens within our lifetimes).

    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 12 2018, @05:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 12 2018, @05:23PM (#773537)

      "I had thought Google was still planning to go ahead with it."

      I was kindof weirded out by this whole thing. Didn't Google try and do this years ago? If I remember right, it ended with them ripping out all their racks overnight so they wouldn't be "appropriated". So it kindof looks like a suckers game to begin with.

      I tend to disagree with those who regard state censorship as a reason not to do it. Invariably the algo's are going to leak non state-friendly data, because developers will optimize around them. My beef would the be state level surveillance part. But how do you beef that given the current surveillance state here in the U.S. ? If we were doing our part, we would be the beacon of freedom that Congress presumes itself to represent. Would be nice, but no. So I kindof consider it bad business idea, but ethically, it is kindof a wash.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by DannyB on Wednesday December 12 2018, @07:27PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 12 2018, @07:27PM (#773619) Journal

      > "we have no plans to launch search in China"

      Business plans change.

      Google had plans for a censored search engine in China. Then 5 minutes before the hearing, those plans changed. Then 5 minutes after the hearing, they changed back again.

      Congress cannot expect business plans to remain frozen when business conditions change. (such as when testifying before congress)

      Since nobody defrags SSDs anymore, they are more (or less?) prone to failure of their seek mechanisms.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13 2018, @06:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13 2018, @06:29PM (#774067)

      "Another dumb thing: Congressmen taking their whole allotted time to deliver a political statement rather than ask any questions. Guess what, geniuses, you can post that crap on your House webpage. "

      i've been complaining about this for a while too. they're so stupid and arrogant they think they have to explain everything to people and give their campaign speech, like anyone gives a shit. they only get 5 minutes for some stupid ass reason(as if they have jobs to get to or something) and they waste it like the asshats they are. yes, they should be posting their stupid explanations and BS propaganda on their tax payer funded websites. they can skip the stupid ass senate speeches too, as if they are convincing anyone on the other side of the isle to vote with them. give me a break. post your industry funded and written position on your website, along with everything else that should be there so people can harass you sellout bastards ahead of time.