Google may have dodged a raised right hand moment on the Hill this year as top executives from Twitter and Facebook faced Congress, but the company will now have its own time in the hot seat.
First reported by the Washington Post, Google CEO Sundar Pichai will appear before the House Judiciary Committee on December 5, just one week from today. TechCrunch has confirmed Pichai’s planned appearance. While there are any number of reasons that Congress might want to hear from Google, Pichai’s appearance will reportedly serve as a response to unsubstantiated claims that Google has an anti-conservative bias.
Pichai agreed to testify some time this year back in September at the request of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, one vocal critic who has accused the company of algorithmic bias. While that issue might still be at the forefront for some committee Republicans, getting the company’s chief executive on the stand will open the entire can of worms on Google’s recent controversies.
For Google, a lot has happened since September. For one, the company is still dealing with internal and external criticism about its plans to build a search engine tailored to meet China’s censorship specifications. In October Google also revealed that it was aware of a bug in Google+ that exposed user data dating all the way back to 2015. As recently as this month, Google has been dealing with walkouts and a widespread backlash against its handling of sexual harassment cases within the company. And that’s just to name a few.
Needless to say, Pichai will have plenty to answer for in his time on the witness stand. Assuming the plan goes forward, we can expect House Republicans and Democrats alike to come out swinging on their pet issues in a likely lengthy and wide-ranging testimony.