#GoogleHearing: Interesting revelations by CEO Sundar Pichai during Congressional hearing
Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently testified before the US Congress on the tech giant's use of consumer data and was grilled on a range of issues. During the hearing, the House Judiciary Committee quizzed Pichai on Google's data practices, online privacy, political bias, and secret Chinese search engine project among other issues. Here are some interesting figures surrounding Google he revealed that grabbed attention.
Pichai testified for three-and-a-half hours in the hearing, titled "Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use, and Filtering Practices". It was Pichai's first Congressional appearance as he didn't attend the September hearing on foreign meddling in US elections and tech companies' role.
One of the major concerns lawmakers raised was whether consumers know that their data is collected/stored while using Google products, reported 9to5Google.com. To this, Pichai replied that Google regularly, through Privacy Checkup notices, informs consumers about their data collected and available controls for disabling data collection and deleting the collected data. He said 160 million consumers had so far completed Google's Privacy Checkup.
During the hearing, Google's plans on its secretive Project Dragonfly dedicated to a search engine in China, for blocking results considered "sensitive" by the country's government, also cropped up. While Pichai did admit Google was, at one point, working on the project, he clarified the company has no plans to launch it right now. He added over 100 Google engineers were working on it.
Pichai was questioned about Google Search and if employees could manipulate results and why President Trump's images appear while searching for "idiot". He explained how Google Search's algorithm is designed and why it's a challenge to manipulate results. He said based on keyword-rankings and 200+ signals or factors, Google Search indexes billions of pages, adding 15% of searches are queries Google never received before.
In relation to foreign meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election, the Congress members quizzed Pichai about the role of the tech giant's advertising arm, Google Advertising, by Russians to influence the election. The Google boss then revealed the company could find only two advertising accounts linked to the alleged Russian interference. He also disclosed that these accounts paid about $4,700 for ads.
Google recently announced that 52.5mn Google+ users' data was exposed in November, adding it was shutting down the social media platform four months earlier than planned. During the hearing, Pichai was asked about the legal requirements in place related to user data leaks. He said that Google is required to notify the users as well as regulators of the data leak within 72 hours.