Billionaire tech investor, Trump supporter, and Facebook board member Peter Thiel sent shock waves throughout the tech industry on Sunday when he called for the FBI and CIA to investigate whether Chinese intelligence has infiltrated “seemingly treasonous” Google.
According to Axios, Thiel made the comments on Sunday at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C. His speech focused on three questions he said the FBI and CIA should ask the tech giant.
“Number one, how many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated your Manhattan Project for AI (artificial intelligence)?” Thiel reportedly asked. “Number two, does Google’s senior management consider itself to have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence?”
Thiel also accused the Alphabet-owned Google of working with the Chinese military.
“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,” Thiel said, according to Axios.
A Google spokesperson denied that Google works with the Chinese military.
However, last year, it was revealed that the tech giant once worked on a project to launch a censored search service in China. The project, dubbed “Dragonfly” was reportedly an attempt to get back into the country’s web search market following years of absence, but after hundreds of employees protested against the project, Google dropped the project.
Google also reportedly did not renew a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense when it expired earlier this year. That partnership reportedly involved helping the Pentagon analyze and interpret drone videos via artificial intelligence.
Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale stood by Thiel on CNBC Monday, calling his Palantir co-founder “courageous” for speaking out against Google.
“Google is not a patriotic company,” said Lonsdale.
Palantir Co-Founder Joe Lonsdale defends Peter Thiel's comments against Google saying "Google is clearly not a patriotic company"@CNBC @carlquintanilla @MorganLBrennan @jonfortt $GOOGL pic.twitter.com/sxVoQmvYyk
— Squawk Alley (@SquawkAlley) July 15, 2019
On Fox Business Monday, Disruptive Tech Research chief analyst Lou Basenese argued Thiel raised “perfectly legitimate” concerns about China and Google.
“There’s absolutely a concern here,” Basenese said. “In today’s digital world where we’ve miniaturized chips, how can we not be concerned about foreign governments infiltrating U.S. systems? And with everything online, it’s a legitimate threat,” he added.
“It’s a question that needs to be asked that Google should be willing to answer.”
(Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)