After talking to an empty chair and delaying a previously scheduled hearing following the death of President George H.W. Bush, Congress finally got the chance to face off against Google CEO today Sundar Pichai during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. "You're in effect picking winners and losers in political discourse", said Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, who complained about Google results returning negative news about conservative political figures. "We have no say in how Google uses even our most personal data, and the only way to opt out is to boycott the internet itself".
On search engine allegations, Pichai said studies cited by Republicans alleging bias, including one by PJ Media, were based on questionable methodologies.
Pichai, dressed in a dark suit, calmly responded to questions, repeating on several occasions that the company seeks to serve a range of viewpoints without bias.
The questions about the images of President Trump appearing in images results for the word "idiot" were in a bid to understand how the search engine's algorithms work.
In addition to explaining how Google search algorithms minimize bias, Pichai "denied any political bias within the company, and maintained that no individuals have direct influence over search results", DiClemente wrote.
Sundar Pichai's appearance before the House Judiciary Committee was meant to discuss a number of issues.
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But right from the first Democratic statement, from ranking member Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.), Democrats defended Google by arguing it has the right to be biased.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai will testify before Congress on Tuesday. At one point in proceedings 69-year-old Republican Congressman Steve King expressed his disappointment to Pichai that his 7-year-old daughter had been shown a photo of her grandfather with some unflattering language on her iPhone.
Google is not at the stage of discussion with the Chinese government he added, vowing that he would be "fully transparent" with policymakers if the company brings search products to China. Pichai fell back on Google's common defense that users are able to turn off location tracking, although many users are not aware of their settings.
Pichai also told lawmakers that different ad rates for different candidates don't stem from bias, but results from "keywords which are of particular interest, and the market determines that".
On data protection and privacy regulation, Pichai said the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, which went into effect in May, was a "well thought out, crafted piece of legislation" and that there would be "some value to have consistent global regulations". But Pichai evaded the question. Pichai said that absent any change in the user's settings data will be retained indefinitely.