Google Goes to Congress

Written by Jennifer Clark
Posted December 12, 2018

This past Tuesday, December 11th, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was in Washington, D.C., to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

Google is one of the tech companies to have recently come under scrutiny because of President Donald Trump. Back in August, the president talked about the potential bias that Google's search engine algorithm could have.

In the meeting, Google's CEO and the House Judiciary Committee discussed the company's privacy practices, plans to relaunch service in China, market power, and whether or not the company suppresses conservative content.

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Republican leader, said:

All of these topics — competition, censorship, bias and others — point to one fundamental question that demands the nation's attention. Are America's technology companies serving as instruments of freedom or instruments of control? Because a free world depends on a free internet, we need to know that Google is on the side of the free world.

The hearing lasted a little more than three hours, but even that wasn't enough time to hit all the bases.

The main issue in the hearing involved the information that Google collects from its users and that most of those users have no idea to what extent and for what Google uses that data.

Technology is advancing quickly. Over the past decade, people have trusted companies like Google whenever they've input their personal information or browsed the internet. You give a lot of information to Google. And it's been made to seem like such a simple process — a way to input your information and never have to type it in again. But doing this gives Google access to not only your personal information but also to your smart device and computer. You're made to believe that it's all done in the interest of your well-being and security. And that might be partially true. But it also gives a company access to information that could be used to advertise to you personally or to even sell data to other tech companies.

But most of us don't read the fine print when we agree to give companies like Google access to the microphone and photo settings on our smartphones.

Recent reports have gone into more detail on how much information companies like Google have collected from their users. It gets really creepy. Companies like Google even have details about their users' physical locations.

But these companies claim that they only use the information to better serve their users and so users only see the information that's relevant to them.

Google CEO Pichai said in response:

Our goal is, we're trying to help users with the information they want. Users give us feedback … They want us to be location-aware.

It's alarming to know that these big tech companies have obtained huge amounts of data on users and that they can use it in any way they please. Well, maybe not any way but definitely to their advantage.

And it's obvious that, over the next few years, there will be more of a focus on what kind of data Google and other tech giants gather, how they use it, and if they use it to their advantage. And that will most likely draw stronger and bolder lines between what a tech company can and can't do with users' personal information.

So, what does all this mean in the grand scheme of everything? Google and other companies like Google will have to think twice about how they use data from individuals. The alternative is that they could face huge penalties. And a company that spends millions of dollars on legal fees and penalties instead of expanding its business will start upsetting its shareholders.

Over the next few years, it'll be interesting to see what new laws come into effect to protect users' personal info from these big tech companies.

Until next time,

Jennifer Clark
Pro Trader Today

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