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Billionaire Thiel: Google ‘seemingly committing treason’ with Chinese military; calls for federal investigation into spies and more

Billionaire Peter Thiel. (JD Lasica/Flickr - No changes made)
July 15, 2019

Facebook investor and board member Peter Thiel is calling for an investigation into Google’s alleged support of the Chinese military.

At the National Conservatism Conference on Sunday, Thiel said the FBI and CIA need to ask Google three questions in a “not excessively gentle manner,” Axios reported exclusively on Sunday.

“Number one, how many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated your Manhattan Project for AI (artificial intelligence)?” Thiel reportedly asked, according to Axios. “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 said, according to Axios.

Google rejected the assertion that they work with the Chinese military.

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“As we have said before, we do not work with the Chinese military,” a Google spokesperson told CNBC News.

It’s not the first time Google has been accused of helping the Chinese military.

In March, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, “The work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military.”

“We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing that there is that indirect benefit,” Dunford said at the time. “Frankly, ‘indirect’ may be not a full characterization of the way it really is, it is more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military.”

Google was also criticized at the time for its lack of support for Pentagon programs after it announced plans to cut projects, citing ethical concerns.

Google ended its Project Maven contract with the Pentagon earlier this year. The project involved a program that employed artificial intelligence to analyze aerial imagery taken from military drones. The program sparked outrage among Google employees, prompting 4,000 of them to sign a petition against “warfare technology.”

In October 2018, Google also withdrew their $10 billion contract bid to the Pentagon for a cloud computing project called Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), which would migrate significant amounts of Pentagon data to the cloud.

Last year, Google also worked directly with China on developing a censored version of Google’s search product called Dragonfly. After widespread criticism from the public and Google employees, the company axed the project in December.