Ex-Google boss Eric Schmidt defends Google controversies

Eric Schmidt defended several controversies involving tech giant Google, including its projects with China, sexism in the workplace, and moving their money to tax havens.

    2019/05/15

NSFW    LONDON — Former Google exec, Eric Schmidt, defended several controversies involving tech giant Google during an interview with the BBC, including secretly developing a search engine for China, sexism in the workplace, and moving their money to tax havens. Here's what he had to say.

Let's start with Google's involvement with China. Right after stating that, quote, "transparency is a virtue" during the interview, Schmidt was questioned on why the company had decided to keep Dragonfly, a code name for a censored search engine Google was developing for China, undercover — even from the employees that were unknowingly developing it."

His answer? "Certainly the people who were building all these products knew about it." Truth is, certainly not. According to reports by The Intercept, only hundreds out of 88,000 Google employees knew about Dragonfly and those who later found out weren't too happy.

What's more, employees learned about the project through news reports. According to The Intercept, thousands of Googlers responded by signing an open letter where they condemned Dragonfly and asked the company to abandon it. Doesn't really sound like there was a lot of transparency going on there, huh?

Schmidt didn't leave it at that though. He also said he disagreed with Google's decision to leave China in 2010, saying, "I believed they would be better to stay in China, and help change China to be more open." Right, help China be more open. Might we add Google left China at the time due to safety concerns and threats of cyber attacks?

But Google's shady China dealings isn't the only thing that has its workers up in arms. Employees took to the streets in November to protest for gender equality in the company, after the New York Times reported that former exec Andy Rubin got an exit package of $90 million despite a credible claim of sexual harassment against him.

Schmidt did not address the sexual harassment claim, but chalked down employee protests as showing "our culture at work," adding that Google is empowering of its employees and wants to hear from them." Guess as long as what they hear aren't sexual harassment claims?

There's more. According to the BBC, Google moved $22.7 billion to a shell company in Bermuda, a well-known tax haven. Schmidt dismissed the issue, explaining they were adhering to global tax regimes and added, "Would you like us to give more, voluntarily, to these governments?"

When questioned further on whether or not Dragonfly should continue to be developed, Schmidt stated he would not comment as he was no longer involved with management in the company.

Schmidt was a Google executive chairman from 2011 to 2015 and is currently on the board of directors of Google's parent company, Alphabet. He is set to leave the board in June but will remain as a technical advisor.
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