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Google bosses expected to snub Senate


When Silicon Valley companies once again appear in front of the US Senate on Wednesday, there will be one major absentee: Google.

The Senate Intelligence Committee wanted to hear from Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, or his boss Larry Page, the chief executive of Google’s parent firm, Alphabet.

Barring a dramatic, last-minute change of plan, the BBC understands neither will attend. It would mark the first time a technology firm has refused to comply with the wishes of Congress since the wide-reaching inquiries into misinformation and meddling began in the wake of the 2016 election.

Google had instead hoped to send Kent Walker, one of its top lawyers. The offer was abruptly shut down by the committee. Its vice chairman, the Democratic Senator Mark Warner, said an empty chair would be left out to represent Google’s non-appearance.

Eventually, senators may issue a subpoena, forcing an appearance under the threat of prosecution.

“If Google thinks we’re just going to go away, they’re sadly mistaken,” said Senator Warner, speaking to Wired magazine.

The hearing, scheduled to begin at 09:30 (13:30 GMT), is entitled “Foreign Influence Operations’ Use of Social Media Platforms”.

As well as Google, Twitter and Facebook have been called to appear.

@jack leaps to Twitter’s defence

Twitter will be represented by its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, while Facebook is sending its chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. It will be the first time either executive has faced a congressional committee.

Mr Dorsey will also appear, alone, in a hearing on Wednesday afternoon looking specifically at transparency on his platform. He is expected to strongly oppose the suggestion that conservative voices are being silenced on Twitter – a growing claim from the US political right, one that has not been backed up with reliable data. Read more

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Google bosses expected to snub Senate