Technology

Senate Democrats urge Google to conduct racial equity audit

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
Greg Nash

A group of Senate Democrats is urging Google and its parent company Alphabet to conduct a racial equity audit, citing concerns over the company’s algorithms, products and workplace environment. 

“We can no longer rely on promises and need Alphabet to take affirmative steps to protect Black people and other people of color. A racial equity audit is long overdue,” the senators wrote in a letter Wednesday. 

The letter led by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) comes more than a month after civil rights organization Color of Change launched a petition also urging the Silicon Valley giant to conduct a racial equity audit. 

The Democrats said they are “concerned about repeated instances where Alphabet missed the mark and did not proactively ensure its products and workplaces were safe for Black people.” 

They called out the algorithms of Google Search and YouTube over accusations of perpetuating “racist stereotypes and white nationalist viewpoints.” 

The letter also cited the high-profile dismissal of top Google AI ethicist Timnit Gebru. 

In December, Gebru said she was fired after she was asked to retract a paper detailing ethical considerations of an AI technology used in Google’s search engine. Thousands of Google employees rallied behind Gebru and signed a petition protesting her dismissal. 

Google has pushed back on Gebru’s claims and has said her dismissal was an acceptance of her resignation. 

“As Congress and the federal government do more to protect communities of color from civil rights violations online, companies need to do their part by examining areas for improvement and ensuring their workplaces are safe for members of these communities,” the Democratic senators wrote. 

The letter was also signed by Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Mark Warner (Va.), Ed Markey (Mass.), and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.). 

A spokesperson for Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tags Alphabet Cory Booker Ed Markey Google Mark Warner racial equity Richard Blumenthal Ron Wyden Silicon Valley Timnit Gebru
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