In a very sharply aimed tweet late yesterday evening U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy called out Google for giving a “silent donation” to a left-wing group to stop President Donald Trump, and for allegedly working with China and Russia to censor the internet.
Serving as Majority Leader since 2014, the longtime California Republican Representative also said “an invite will be on its way” which many believe indicates Google will soon be asked to testify before Congress. The tweet comes after Google decided to skip a Senate Select Committee hearing on election meddling.
•Claims to be fair, but gave a “silent donation” to a left-wing group to stop Trump
•Works w/ China/Russia to censor the internet, but cancelled a contract with our military
•Ignores Senate hearing
It’s time for @Google to answer some ?’s An invite will be on its way.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) September 11, 2018
A Google spokesperson told CNBC in a statement: “The suggestion that Google’s products or actions are politically biased is simply wrong. For the past decade, we’ve worked alongside other technology companies to provide users with voting information before they head to the polls, and have offered tools to protect elections from hacking and digital attacks.”
It is not exactly clear what McCarthy was referring to by a “silent donation to a left-wing group to stop Trump,” but the mention of a cancelled contract with the US military refers to the Mountain View-based tech giant’s involvement in “Project Maven,” the Pentagon pilot program that uses AI to improve drone strikes. When thousands of Googlers signed a letter saying “We believe that Google should not be in the business of war” and asking the company leadership to end its involvement in Project Maven, the company announced it would not renew the contract.
Yesterday, Breitbart News released a leaked video that showed the company’s top officials, including co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, VPs Kent Walker and Eileen Naughton, CFO Ruth Porat, and CEO Sundar Pichai, in the first “all-hands” meeting after the 2016 election. The video reveals a mood of universal dismay at Trump’s election among the company’s heads, with Brin, who was born in the Soviet Union, saying on the recording, “As an immigrant and refugee, I certainly find the selection deeply offensive.”
This video appeared just a day after Fox News got hold of an internal email from Google’s former head of multicultural marketing, which detailed the company’s efforts to boost Latino turnout during the presidential election.
It is clear that the representative as well as some fellow committee members consider Google biased against certain individuals and groups. Earlier this Summer, a different controversy arose with a California tinge. Google users who searched “California Republican Party” and then asked for more information were shown a box with tenets of ideology that included the word “Nazism.” The company removed the offensive word when it was notified. Following McCarthy, Senator Mark Warner also tweeted “We remain woefully underprepared to secure the upcoming elections, and an executive order is simply no substitute for congressional action, such as the strong measures included in the bipartisan DETER Act”.
The DETER Act or Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines, introduced by Senator Marco Rubio, uses key national security tools to dissuade hostile foreign powers from meddling in our elections. Even as the “Russia Collusion” allegations have dogged the President for nearly two years, to this day it is still unclear what effect that meddling might have had, if any. Furthermore the political spotlight has been more recently focused on other big tech companies besides Google including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Most recently, Alex Jones, the infamous right-wing conspiracy theorist was supposedly banned from these platforms, which justified their actions citing “hate speech.”
Recent event such as the ones listed above will certainly contribute to a watchful eye being lent from Congress, however Google has not responded to the Globe nor made any public statements on when it might be heading to D.C. for any hearings. If Republicans are able to hold on to the majority in the House this November, McCarthy is poised to run for Speaker to replace the retiring Paul Ryan.