A group of lawmakers from both chambers of Congress wrote a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai dated June 20, asking him to reconsider its relationship with Chinese telecommunications companies that “have extensive ties with the Chinese Communist Party.”
The elected officials are especially concerned about Huawei, a Chinese corporation with an allegedly submissive relationship to its more authoritarian government.
The letter was signed and sent by: Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Republican Reps. Michael Conaway of Texas, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, and Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger III of Maryland.
As noted by the lawmakers, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence expressed sincere concerns over national security with Chinese telecommunications firms like Huawei and another, ZTE, in an investigative report released October 8, 2012. Ruppersberger helped craft that report as the ranking member of that committee. The letter to Pichai also cited intense skepticism from FBI Director Christopher Wray, who said at a hearing on the matter that he was “deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign government that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.” The heads of six U.S. intelligence agencies also warned American citizens at the time that purchasing their products or services could be dangerous.
To build on that advocacy, the four congressmen and congresswoman are trying to encourage Google specifically.
“We urge you to reconsider Google’s partnership with Huawei, particularly since your company recently refused to renew a key research partnership, Project Maven, with the Department of Defense,” the letter reads. “This project uses artificial intelligence to improve the accuracy of U.S. military targeting, not least to reduce civilian casualties.”
In other words, the small coalition is arguing that if Google finds it so wrong to team up with the American military — likely a decision largely resting upon its employees’ protests — why does it not feel the same, if not more so, for working with a company that is accused of being at least partially controlled by a government with a record of human rights violations. (China was most recently ranked as the worst abuser of internet freedoms, taking the infamous title for the third year in a row).
“While we regret that Google did not want to continue a long and fruitful tradition of collaboration between the military and technology companies, we are even more disappointed that Google apparently is more willing to support the Chinese Communist Party than the U.S. military,” the letter continues. (RELATED: Google To Invest $550 Million In Chinese E-Commerce Behemoth To Rival Amazon, Cozy Up To China)
“We look forward to answering these questions,” a Google representative told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Like many US companies, we have agreements with dozens of OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] around the world, including Huawei. We do not provide special access to Google user data as part of these agreements and our agreements include privacy and security protections for user data.”
Google isn’t the only one that has been sternly advised on such a matter, as U.S. lawmakers have also urged other domestic-based companies like AT&T to do the same.
And along with Ruppersberger, this has been a key issue for Rubio. The legislator from Florida grilled Apple in December during a hearing for allegedly sucking up to China for profits. (RELATED: These Big Name Tech Companies Shout Progressivism While Selling Out To China)
What makes it worse, Rubio said, is that Apple and its leaders often “lecture us about free speech and human rights” and problems here in America.
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