By Aaron Pressman and Adam Lashinsky
December 11, 2018

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Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, testifies Tuesday at the House Judiciary Committee’s laughably long-titled hearing on “Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use, and Filtering Practices.”

In his admirably short prepared testimony, submitted ahead of time to the committee, Pichai addresses almost none of the supposed topics open for conversation. That’s because he knows full well that 1) the people’s representatives wouldn’t know a filtering practice on the Internet from a water-filtration pump at a sewage plant; and 2) his inquisitors don’t plan to stick to the topics at hand and instead plan to paint Google as a biased, leftish, wannabe China-coddling monopolist. So instead he reminded the committee that Google’s founders hailed from Michigan (true) and Maryland (not really), that Google is the quintessentially American company, that it takes privacy seriously and supports federal privacy legislation, and that he’s proud to lead the company “without political bias.”

The conversation may or may not be interesting, depending on whether or not Congressional staffers did their homework and convinced their bosses to pay attention. Here are three things Pichai won’t say, but that it would damn fun to hear come out of his mouth:

First, I’d like to address the Republican members of the committee who believe Google is biased. Here you’re partly right and partly wrong. Our egregiously overpaid leadership and highly pedigreed, entitled, and coddled rank-and-fileship absolutely are creatures of the left. We believe in an open exchange of ideas—so long as the exchanges are inside our politically correct tent. What you’ve got wrong is that there’s bias in our search algorithm. You see, we are far more interested in making money than scoring political points. We understand that first we have to make money; then we can give it to Democratic political candidates. But hey, it’s a free country.

Second, you all may be wondering why we’re playing footsie with the Chinese even as we are turning up our noses at the U.S. defense and intelligence communities. Well, for starters, see No. 1 above. China is ascendant; the U.S., not so much. And if I may be frank with you, we missed a giant opportunity when we fled China on principle a few years ago. We haven’t figured everything out yet, but we’re trying. And give us a break: Would you ignore a fast-growing market with 1.4 billion consumers?

Third, if you feel compelled to restrict what we can do with the data we collect, we’ll grudgingly help you write the regulations—especially if the alternative is EU-style fines and sanctions. But don’t come crying to us when Google Maps can’t get you out of a traffic jam, when you have to click like eight or nine times to get a sports score, and when your Gmail inbox starts to look like Outlook. The list goes on. Trust me.

And thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk to you today.

God bless America.

Adam Lashinsky


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