On Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke with a senior Google executive to ask about the recent dissolution of an advisory council on artificial intelligence in which the president of the conservative Heritage Foundation would participate.
Cruz’s conversation with Karan Bhatia, Google’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, sought to investigate the company’s motives for the dissolution of the council of experts last April after some company employees refused to include Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation, on the team.
According to The Daily Signal, during a hearing held by the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Cruz sought to question Bhatia about Google’s decision: “You worked at The Heritage Foundation, I believe you said,” Cruz said to Bhatia; “Do you consider The Heritage Foundation to be some fringe organization?”
For his part, Bhatia told Cruz that he considered Heritage to be a conservative organization.
However, during the Capitol Hill hearing, which also included some other leading technology companies such as Silicon Valley, Bhatia denied that the company was behind any kind of political bias or motivation.
Cruz recalled during the hearing that 2,500 Google employees signed a petition for James to be removed from the council, which accused her of being vocally “anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-immigrant.” “In selecting James, Google is making clear that its version of ‘ethics’ values proximity to power over the wellbeing of trans people, other LGBTQ people and immigrants,” the senator said repeating what was in the petition.
About the experience, James stated in an opinion piece for The Washington Post, saying: “They called me anti-immigrant, and anti-LGBTQ and a bigot. That was an odd one, because I’m a 69-year-old black woman who grew up fighting segregation.”
In response to the company’s decision to end the panel of experts, James wrote, “The company has given in to the mentality of a rage mob.”
During the hearing, Cruz also described as ‘unprecedented’ the control the company exercises over what people hear, watch, and read. “Google can, and often does, control our discourse. The American people are subject to overt censorship and covert manipulation,” the senator added, according to Fox News.
The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee also criticized Google executives at the meeting for exercising broad support for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, and said 88 executives contributed to her campaign.
For their part, the Democrats who attended the committee defended the Internet giant against the accusations, however they joined the voices that criticized it when it was exposed the issue of having done little to eliminate disturbing videos and images with violent content on its platforms.
According to The Epoch Times, in the controversy surrounding the content created by the technology giant, there is also a letter that Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley sent to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate how major technology companies restrict content and make public only what they consider to be of public interest.