Google bosses expected to snub Senate

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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 far-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.

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