During a radio interview a few minutes ago, I was asked for my opinion regarding Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s hearing at Congress today.
There’s a lot that can be said about this hearing. Sundar confirmed that Google does not plan to go ahead with a Chinese government censored search engine — right now.
Most of the hearing involved the ridiculous, false continuing charges that Google’s search results are politically biased — they’re not.
But relating to that second topic, I heard one of the scariest demands ever uttered by a member of the U.S. Congress.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) wants Google to hand over to Congress the identities of the Googlers whose work relates to search algorithms. King made it clear that he wants to examine these private individuals’ personal social media postings, his direct implication being that showing a political orientation in your personal postings would mean that you’d be incapable of doing your work on search in an unbiased manner.
This is worse than wrong, worse than stupid, worse than lunacy — it’s outright dangerous McCarthyism of the first order.
Everything else that occurred in that hearing pales into insignificance compared with King’s statement.
King continued by threatening Google with various punitive actions if Google refuses to agree to his demand regarding Google employees, and also to turn over the details of how the Google search algorithms are designed — which of course Congress would leak — setting the stage for search to be gamed and ruined by every tech-savvy wacko and crook.
Steve King has a long history of crazy, racist remarks, so it’s no surprise that he also rants into straitjacket territory when it comes to Google as well.
But his remarks today regarding Google were absolutely chilling, and they need to be widely and vigorously condemned in no uncertain terms.