Jul 15, 2019

Peter Thiel says FBI, CIA should probe Google

Peter Thiel speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Peter Thiel, billionaire investor and Facebook board member, on Sunday night said that Google should be federally investigated for allegedly aiding the Chinese military.

Why it matters: Thiel is the tech industry's highest-profile Trump supporter, and one of the most powerful players in Silicon Valley.

Thiel spoke at the National Conservatism Conference, a new event that bills itself as being focused on Trump-era nationalism, with part of his speech focusing on "three questions that should be asked" of Google:

"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?"

He also added that those 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."

Thiel did not specifically mention Facebook, but it likely will be mentioned by later speakers at the conference, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has agitated against big tech on the air, and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who is seeking to strip major web platforms of certain legal protections.

Go deeper

Trump says administration "will take a look" at Peter Thiel's Google allegations

President Trump tweeted Tuesday that his administration "will take a look" at billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel's statement over the weekend that Google should be federally investigated for allegedly aiding the Chinese military.

Why it matters, per Axios' David McCabe: Thiel is the tech industry's highest-profile Trump supporter, and one of the most powerful players in Silicon Valley.

Go deeperArrowJul 16, 2019

Thiel's Google charge opens new line of attack on tech

Peter Thiel. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Investor Peter Thiel's charge Sunday that Google is in bed with China apparently wasn't a one-off attack. It's increasingly looking like the first shot on a new front in the war between Trump's Washington and Silicon Valley.

Why it matters: Tech companies are already defending themselves against charges of privacy invasion, political bias and monopoly power. Now, they're being accused of being unpatriotic — and even treasonous.

Go deeperArrowJul 16, 2019

A few questions for Peter Thiel

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Peter Thiel doubled down last night on his "Google has maybe been infiltrated by the Chinese government" claim, which was eventually picked up by President Trump. When (lightly) pressed for evidence, Thiel simply said he was "asking questions."

Why it matters: You don't propose that someone deserves to face a firing squad without at least a single receipt.