Trump to investigate Google’s “treasonous” China links

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US President Donald Trump has renewed his offensive against search giant Google, saying his administration would investigate the company’s alleged links to the Chinese government.

Why it matters: Google’s work in China has come under greater scrutiny since news broke last year that the company was working on a censored version of its search engine for China.

  • US lawmakers and a high-ranking military officer have continued to question the work the company is doing in China.
  • Critics say that the company’s presence in China benefits the country’s military, a claim that the company has continued to deny.

“The Trump Administration will take a look!” —US President Donald Trump on Twitter

“As we have said before, we do not work with the Chinese military,” a Google spokesperson told TechNode in an emailed statement.

Details: Trump’s remarks come after Facebook board member and Trump supporter Peter Thiel said Google has “seemingly treasonous” links to China, giving no evidence.

  • The Paypal co-founder said that the FBI and CIA should investigate Google for its work in China, reported Bloomberg.
  • Thiel later appeared on Fox News saying he would like to ask Google CEO Sunday Pichai whether the company had been infiltrated by foreign intelligence agencies and why it is working with China rather than the US.
  • Trump took to Twitter to voice his support for Thiel, saying that the billionaire is a “brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone.”

Context: Since Google’s work on a filtered search engine was made public by The Intercept last year, the company has faced outcry from US officials, the public, and its employees.

  • Google has a significant presence in China despite its search engines and consumer-facing services being blocked. The company opened an artificial intelligence research center in Beijing in 2017.
  • The once-clandestine search engine, dubbed Project Dragonfly, was shelved earlier this year, according to Google.
  • In March, Joseph Dunford, marine general and chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking military advisory committee in the US, said the company’s work in China was benefiting the country’s military.
  •  Meanwhile, Google has opted to drop contracts with the US government to aid in analyzing drone footage. Google said it would also no longer pursue a $10 billion cloud computing deal with the country’s defense department as it does not align with its ethical guidelines.

This article has been updated to include a response from Google.