Google CEO refutes claims of bias against conservatives, skewed search results in first US House hearing

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FILE PHOTO of Google CEO Sundar Pichlai.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai refuted claims of bias by explaining the search engine giant’s privacy approach, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Earlier in August, US President Donald Trump had accused Google of ‘rigging’ search results to ‘shut out’ conservatives. Google had denied the claims.

In his first appearance before the Congress on Tuesday, he was questioned about Google’s data collection– how much personal information Google absorbs via its Android mobile software.

Quoted in the report, Pichai observed how users used few data-tracking features, such as fitness apps that count steps, but did not directly respond to a question about whether Android device users fully understand the terms of the operating system. “Beyond the terms of service, we actually offer, we remind users to do a privacy check up,” he said. “And we make it very obvious.”

When asked whether Google’s search engine was biased against conservatives, citing studies, Pichai refuted those findings and said no employees have the ability to skew search results, the report said.

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“There are always studies which can show one set of data and arrive at a conclusion,” Pichai was quoted in the report as having said. “But we have looked at results on our top news category. We find that we have a wide variety of sources.”

It was necessary to convene this hearing because of the widening gap of distrust between technology companies and the American people,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, citing China, antitrust and anti-conservative bias as concerns, according to the report.

“Right now, we have no plans to launch in China,” Pichai stated, as per the report. “We don’t have a search product there. Our core mission is to provide information to users. Getting access to information is an important human right.”

Google had pulled back from China in 2008 after the Chinese government had demanded that the results be censored. However, due to it being the largest internet market, Google’s plans to re-enter China (codenamed ‘Dragonfly’) signifies prioritizing business over human rights.

Politicians have demanded to know why Google seems willing to censor search results at the behest of Chinese Community Party but has pulled back from two contracts with the US military.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

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