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Google CEO Faces House Grilling 12/11 06:25
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Google's CEO faces a grilling from U.S. lawmakers on how
the web search giant handled an alarming data breach and whether it may bend to
Chinese government censorship demands.
CEO Sundar Pichai's appearance Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee
comes after he angered members of a Senate panel in September by declining
their invitation to testify about foreign governments' manipulation of online
services to sway U.S. elections. Pichai's no-show at that hearing was marked by
an empty chair for Google alongside the Facebook and Twitter executives.
Pichai went to Washington later in September to mend fences, meeting with
some two dozen Republicans and indicating he also planned to meet with
Democrats. He took part last week in a White House meeting with other tech
industry executives that focused mainly on getting government and businesses
working more closely on accelerating emerging technologies such as artificial
In October, Google announced it was shutting down its long-shunned Plus
social network following its disclosure of a flaw discovered in March that
could have exposed some personal information of as many as 500,000 people. The
company deliberately avoided disclosing the privacy lapse at the time, in part
to avoid drawing regulators' scrutiny and damaging its reputation, according to
a Wall Street Journal report citing anonymous individuals and documents.
Lawmakers want Google to explain its failure to reveal the breach.
On Monday, the company said it was accelerating its plans to shutter Plus
after discovering a privacy flaw that inadvertently exposed the names, email
addresses, ages and other personal information of 52.5 million users last
month. The service will now go dark in April instead of August, as previously
"We work hard to ensure the integrity of our products, and we've put a
number of checks and balances in place to ensure they continue to live up to
our standards," Pichai said in his opening statement prepared for Tuesday's
Lawmakers are also concerned by recent reports that Google is poised to
re-enter China with a search engine generating censored results to comply with
the demands of that country's Communist government.
President Donald Trump has accused Google of rigging the results of its
dominant search engine to suppress conservative viewpoints and highlight
coverage from media that he says distribute "fake news." That's another area of
potential questions to Pichai by committee members.
The company has denied any political bias, and there's no evidence of an
anti-conservative tilt. Pichai said in his written testimony that "I lead this
company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to
operate that way. To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our
Google has good reason to communicate with lawmakers and policymakers, and
to seek to weigh in on thorny issues. Trump and some lawmakers have raised the
possibility of asking regulators to investigate whether Google --- which
handles nearly two of every three online searches in the U.S. --- has abused
its clout as a major gateway to the internet to stifle competition.
And momentum is building in Congress for legislation to put stricter limits
and privacy protections around the big tech companies' collection of data. With
the Democrats having captured control of the House in the midterm elections,
and poised to take over as the majority running the Judiciary Committee next
month, tougher legislation could be in the offing.
Pichai, a former engineer, took the helm of Google in 2015 in a major
restructuring that made Google a division of conglomerate Alphabet Inc. ---
whose businesses include Waymo, a self-driving technology development company.
Bolstering the dominance of its search engine, Google's Android operating
system runs most of the world's smartphones, and its other services ---
including Gmail, YouTube, online ads and the Chrome web browser --- are widely
Jan beans finished down 7 cents, March corn down 1.5, and March wheat down 6 cents. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer went on cable news over the weekend making clear that March 1st was a “hard deadline” for the US – China trade talks. Concerns over the timeline and the ability to get something done before then were weighing on markets today. Market direction is going to follow the outcomes of these talks. The arrest of Meng Wanzhou (CFO of Huawei) is still weighing on the talks. China is protesting the arrest to the US ambassador in China saying it will take an unspecified “further action”. Anything threatening a trade resolution is weighing on ag market. The news regarding the Wanzhou bail hearing are likely going to add to the weakness we saw today. Market is still chasing headlines.