Bipartisan House group presses Google over China censorship

Bipartisan House group presses Google over China censorship
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers is demanding answers from Google after multiple media reports detailed the internet giant’s plans to develop a censored search engine that would allow it to break into the Chinese market.

Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Smaller companies testify against Big Tech's 'monopoly power' Living in limbo may end for Liberians in the US MORE (D-R.I.) led the group of 16 House members in a letter sent to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Thursday.

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“Google should not be helping China crack down on free speech and political dissent,” Cicilline wrote in a tweet.

Among the lawmakers that signed on to the letter were Reps. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulTop Indian official canceled congressional meeting over inclusion of Jayapal: report Republican group asks 'what is Trump hiding' in Times Square billboard Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' MORE (R-Texas), Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Lawmakers call for FTC probe into top financial data aggregator Overnight Health Care: Health insurers urge Supreme Court to take ObamaCare case | Lawmakers press Trump officials to change marijuana rules | Bloomberg vows to ban flavored e-cigs if elected MORE (D-Calif.) and Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade George Papadopoulos launches campaign to run for Katie Hill's congressional seat The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa MORE (R-Calif.).

Google operated in China until 2010 when it pulled out over concerns about free expression in the Communist nation.

Last month, The Intercept reported that Google had launched a project to develop a censored search service in order to comply with Chinese speech restrictions after a meeting between Pichai and Communist Party officials.

The project has reportedly prompted a handful of Google employees, including research scientist Jack Poulson, to resign.

The House members expressed concern on Thursday that Google is willing to enable China’s surveillance apparatus and control over the free flow of information.

“Is Google in the process of developing a search engine or other product for the Chinese market?” the lawmakers wrote to Pichai. “If so, what has changed within the Chinese operating environment since 2010 that led Google to reconsider its decision to stop complying with Chinese Government censorship?”

When asked for comment, a Google spokeswoman pointed to a previous statement about the reported project.

“We've been investing for many years to help Chinese users, from developing Android, through mobile apps such as Google Translate and Files Go, and our developer tools," the statement reads. "But our work on search has been exploratory, and we are not close to launching a search product in China.”

Updated at 2:50 p.m.