Billionaire tech industry icon Peter Thiel wants Google investigated for "seemingly treasonous" work with China -- and President Trump is listening.
The PayPal co-founder appeared on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Monday and called out Google for working with the Chinese government on a major artificial intelligence project instead of the U.S. Thiel had recently discussed the issue at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C.
“The question is ... what in the world is going on there?” Thiel asked.
Trump cited Thiel's comments in a Tuesday morning tweet and said: “The Trump Administration will take a look!”
What exactly that means is unclear. The Justice Department declined to comment on the apparent suggestion the company could be investigated.
Asked for a response, a Google representative said: "As we have said before, we do not work with the Chinese military."
Thiel had expressed concern over Google’s partnership with China’s government. He said that after Google announced they were working on the “Manhattan Project of AI,” foreign intelligence naturally would have been drawn to it. Additionally, given China’s history of espionage against the U.S., and concerns that China has already infiltrated Google, Thiel questioned whether Google was essentially pressured to work with China.
“They have to, because if they don’t give it to them through the front door, it’ll get stolen through the backdoor,” Thiel said.
Google has faced criticism over its work on a censored search engine – “Project Dragonfly” – that would allow it to return to China after leaving in 2010 over human rights concerns. The company dropped the project after members of the company's privacy team raised complaints.
Thiel said he has three questions that he would ask Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the current project.
“How many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated Google, have the Chinese in particular infiltrated, and why are you working with Communist China and not the U.S.?”
Thiel said that the FBI and CIA could investigate this and find out the answers.
Fox Business Network's Blake Burman and Fox News' Bradford Betz contributed to this report.