Google CEO to meet GOP lawmakers, discuss bias allegations

Google CEO Sundar Pichai will meet with Republican lawmakers on Friday to address allegations of bias against conservative voices and other pressing issues.

Pichai will also appear before House leaders at a hearing after the 2018 election cycle. House leaders are expected to scrutinize Google’s dealings with China, user protection practices and concerns that its digital dominance is harmful to the market.

“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,” Pichai said.

Pichai’s planned participation in the discussions will come weeks after Google executives were notably absent when tech leaders testified before Congress about instances of foreign meddling, fake news and bias on their platforms. GOP leaders were critical of Google’s decision to send its chief legal officer, rather than Pichai or Alphabet CEO Larry Page, to speak at the hearing.

The company downplayed the criticism at the time, noting that Congress was made aware of who would represent Google well in advance of the hearing. Google officials traveled to Washington, D.C., for the hearing, but did not participate.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report the hearing.

“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,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a statement. “Google CEO Sundar Pichai has kindly agreed to field Congress’s questions with Republican Members on Friday. This meeting will inform the Judiciary Committee hearing that will be scheduled later this fall.”

President Trump has repeatedly criticized Google in recent days, accusing the platform of promoting left-leaning news sources while suppressing conservative voices. Last month, Google denied Trump’s allegation that it failed to promote his State of the Union addresses on its homepage, despite doing so for former President Barack Obama.

A series of reports have detailed instances in which Google employees appeared to exhibit political bias. Several employees, including at least three that were manager-level or higher, discussed tweaking Google’s search function to counter the Trump administration’s travel ban from seven majority Muslim countries in late 2017.

Google executives were also said to have criticized Trump during an all-hands meeting after the 2016 presidential election.

Google said changes to its search function would never have been implemented and has denied its platform engages in political bias.