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Google’s Sundar Pichai’s 9 Biggest Statements At Tech Hearing

Donna Goodison

‘Let me be clear, we approach our work without political bias -- full stop,’ Alphabet/Google CEO Sundar Pichai said. ‘To do otherwise would be contrary to both our business interests and our mission...”

Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act has been “foundational” to U.S. leadership in the technology sector, and federal legislators should carefully consider the consequences that any changes could have on businesses and their customers, according to Alphabet/Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

“Our ability to provide access to a wide range of information is only possible because of existing legal frameworks like Section 230,” Pichai, testifying remotely by video, told members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation at a hearing today that also included the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects online platforms and internet companies such as Google from being liable for material posted by their users. It allows them to, in “good faith,” moderate and remove user-generated content that it considers to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

“Let me be clear, we approach our work without political bias -- full stop,” Pichai said. “To do otherwise would be contrary to both our business interests and our mission, which compels us to make information accessible to every type of person, no matter where they live or what they believe.”

“At the end of the day, we all share the same goal: free access to information for everyone and responsible protections for people and their data,” Pichai said.” We support legal frameworks that achieve these goals.”

Senators grilled Pichai, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey during the hearing, entitled “Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?” Republicans repeatedly alleged the tech giants unfairly censor President Donald J. Trump and other conservative voices – including a disputed New York Post story about Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden – while giving foreign dictators freer rein.

“The three witnesses we have before the committee today collectively pose, I believe, the single greatest threat to free speech in America and the greatest threat we have to free and fair elections,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said.

Democrats, meanwhile, called the hearing a “sham” and politically expedient for grandstanding by their Republican counterparts coming six days for the U.S. presidential election.

“The Republicans have called this hearing in order to support a false narrative fabricated by the president to help his reelection prospects,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) said. “The tech companies here today need to take more action, not less, to combat misinformation, including misinformation on the election, misinformation on the COVID-19 pandemic and misinformation and posts meant to incite violence. And that should include misinformation spread by President Trump on their platforms.”

Pichai fielded far fewer questions from senators than the Facebook and Twitter CEOs. Here’s a look at the rest of Pichai’s opening remarks and some of his exchanges with the committee members.

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