Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., smiles during the company’s Cloud Next ‘18 event in San Francisco, California, U.S. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Google CEO Agrees to House Testimony After Company Skipped Senate Hearing

(Bloomberg) -- Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai, whose company drew the ire of senators for failing to send a top executive to a hearing earlier this month, has agreed to appear at another session on Capitol Hill.

Pichai had a round of visits in Washington on Thursday and Friday, meeting with lawmakers and the White House’s top economic adviser.

“This is the start of a conversation that I believe is long overdue -- and that responsibility falls on both sides," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said after Pichai met with a dozen Republican House members. “As big tech’s business grows, we have not had enough transparency and that has led to an erosion of trust and perhaps worse -- harm to consumers.”

McCarthy said Pichai will be invited to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in a hearing later this fall and that Pichai wants to attend.

"As we’ve done for over a decade, including testifying to Congress 22 times since 2008, we remain committed to continuing an active dialogue with members from both sides of the aisle,” Pichai said in a statement after the meeting. "I am personally committed to testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in due course.”

Prominent Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have accused Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google of silencing conservative voices and news sources.

In May, McCarthy criticized a display on the California Republican Party that briefly popped up in relevant Google searches and described the group as embracing Nazism. Google blamed the episode on vandalism of Wikipedia, from which it pulled the information. During his meeting with Pichai, McCarthy, a California Republican, highlighted the immense power social media sites have in delivering news to readers.

Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent, denies it makes content decisions based on politics.

Pichai also met with Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, at the White House.

“NEC Director Larry Kudlow and Google CEO Sundar Pichai had a positive and productive meeting this afternoon,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement. “They discussed a range of issues impacting internet platforms and the economy in general.”

Walters said Pichai had agreed to attend a White House roundtable with Trump "and other internet stakeholders."

Pichai also met with Hawaiian Democratic Senator Brian Schatz during his rounds, according to a person familiar with his itinerary.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with a group of state attorneys general in a closed-door meeting earlier this week to discuss concerns that tech companies may be “hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas.”

Google has also faced blowback over news that it was developing a project for a mobile search app that complies with Chinese censorship rules.

Earlier this month, the Mountain View, California-based company faced sharp criticism from lawmakers for failing to send a top executive to testify before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on state-sponsored election meddling involving technology platforms. Google had offered to send legal and policy chief Kent Walker, who was rebuffed by the committee as insufficiently high-level.

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