Sen. Hawley: Google Has Some Explaining to Do

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai to better explain reports it is censoring criticism of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

Related: Sen. Cruz Says Big Tech Needs to Prove No Bias 

The Verge reported that YouTube confirmed it had been deleting comments containing "certain" Chinese-language phrases critical of the Communist Party. Google told the paper it was a mistake the company was correcting, though the Verge pointed out red flags had been raised over the deletions months ago.  

Google's explanation did not assuage Hawley, one of Big Tech's biggest critics in Congress.  

Related: Hawley Adds Big Corps. to Big Tech Concerns 

“Despite your stated commitments to free speech, you were happy to censor if it meant obtaining more revenue; you shelved the search engine only after you were targeted with a cyberattack," he wrote in a letter dated Wednesday, May 27. "Indeed, as recently as last year, you were secretly working on a new censorship-based search engine, Project Dragonfly, development of which was paused only in the face of immense backlash internally." 

He wants answers to a number of questions, including what led to its censoring the Chinese terms for "communist bandit" and "50-cent party" and whether the company had had any conversations with the party about those terms. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.