September 26, 2018

Senator Hassan Presses Google Representative on Reports the Company is Working on a Search Engine for China

Senator Emphasizes Concerns that Potential Search Engine Would Provide Compromised Results and Enable Censorship and Human Rights Violations by the Chinese Government

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To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning click here.

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan today pressed a representative from Google on recent reports that Google is working on a search engine for China that would provide compromised results, during a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The Senator emphasized concerns that doing so would not only enable the Chinese government to continue censorship, but also to continue carrying out human rights abuses against its citizens.

“I am disturbed, though, by reports that Google is currently working on a search engine for China that would conform with the rigid censorship requirements of the Chinese regime,” Senator Hassan stated. “The search engine would apparently link user's searches to their personal phone numbers, both making it easier for the Chinese government to track and monitor its citizens, and to develop their so-called social credit scores, where citizens can be denied any number of things, from travel to access to school.”

Noting that Google has failed to provide specific answers to questions from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress on its plan to implement this search engine, Senator Hassan asked, “How will Google square its stated privacy values, with this flawed Chinese search engine and the very real possibility that it may be used to repress human rights? 

Keith Enright, Chief Privacy Officer at Google, responded, “My understanding is that we are not, in fact, close to launching a search product in China, and whether we would or could at some point in the future remains unclear. If we were in fact to finalize a plan to launch a search product in China, my team would be actively engaged. Our privacy and security controls would be followed, and any such project or product would follow and be consistent with our values around privacy and data protection, as I've described them here today.”

Senator Hassan urged Mr. Enright and Google to keep members of Congress updated about what kind of work they are doing with China, particularly if they are “contemplating building a tool that could be used by a totalitarian regime to repress human rights.”

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