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Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and sits on Facebook’s board of directors, called on the FBI and CIA to investigate whether the company has been infiltrated by foreign intelligence. A prominent and early supporter of President Trump, Thiel also accused Google of working with the Chinese military while avoiding contact with the U.S. military.
When asked for comment on Thiel’s remarks, Google reiterated that it does not have any dealings with the Chinese military. The company said Thiel’s allegations are false, but did not elaborate on the situation. Google representatives declined further comment.
Thiel took aim at Google during an appearance at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington. While speaking at the event, Thiel said that there are “three questions that should be asked” of Google in relation to its dealings with Beijing.
"Number one, how many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated your Manhattan Project for AI?” Thiel said, according to Axios. "Number two, does Google's senior management consider itself to have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence?
Thiel went on to rip Google for its relationship with the Chinese government.
"Number three, is it because they consider themselves to be so thoroughly infiltrated that they have engaged in the seemingly treasonous decision to work with the Chinese military and not with the US military... because they are making the sort of bad, short-term rationalistic [decision] that if the technology doesn't go out the front door, it gets stolen out the backdoor anyway?" Thiel added.
Thiel’s remarks concerning Google’s dealings with the U.S. military were an apparent reference to the company’s decision last year not to renew a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense related to the analysis of drone footage using artificial intelligence tools as company employees protested creating products for the U.S. government.
Google has faced repeated scrutiny over its dealings with China and its work with the country on a censored search engine codenamed “Project Dragonfly.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said late last year that the company had no plans to launch the project.
President Trump accused Google in March of “helping China and their military.” In response, the company denied working with the Chinese military and said it was “working with the U.S. government, including the Department of Defense, in many areas including cybersecurity, recruiting and healthcare.”
This isn’t the first time that Thiel has raised questions about Google’s business practices. The billionaire has referred to Google as a monopoly on multiple occasions, including in a passage in his 2014 book “Zero To One.”
Thiel has also repeatedly made campaign contributions to Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, including one that came just days before Hawley, then serving as the state’s attorney general, launched an antitrust investigation into Google, according to multiple reports.