Billionaire investor and Trump donor Peter Thiel claimed Sunday that Google has been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence, and said the FBI and CIA should investigate the company’s focus on global markets over U.S. interests.
Thiel, a member of Facebook’s board who is one of President Donald Trump’s top supporters in Silicon Valley, which is largely viewed as liberal, gave a speech at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C., focusing on three questions that should be present to the tech giant, according to a report by Axios.
“Number one, how many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated your Manhattan Project for AI?
“Number two, does Google’s senior management consider itself to have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence?
“Number three, is it because they consider themselves to be so thoroughly infiltrated that they have engaged in the seemingly treasonous decision to work with the Chinese military and not with the US military … because they are making the sort of bad, short-term rationalistic [decision] that if the technology doesn’t go out the front door, it gets stolen out the backdoor anyway?”
Thiel also said these questions “need to be asked by the FBI, by the CIA, and I’m not sure quite how to put this: I would like them to be asked in a not excessively gentle manner.”
Google has been under fire for working on a controversial project to launch a censored version of the search engine in China. Parent company Alphabet said it was an attempt to get back into China’s web search market after years of not doing any business. Hundreds of employees protested the project, which was called Dragonfly, however, Google announced last December it had ceased working on the project.
One June 1, Google Cloud boss Diane Greene told employees it would not renew a controversial contract with the Department of Defense that included analyzing drone videos with artificial intelligence. Canceling the project caused several thousand employees to sign a petition of protest, urging CEO Sundar Pichai to keep Google out of the “business of war,” and dozens resigned in protest.
Alphabet stock (GOOG) was virtually unchanged in premarket trading at 9 a.m. EDT on Monday, up 1 point to $1,146.