Google chairman Eric Schmidt has agreed to testify to lawmakers before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee in September. The announcement comes in the wake of Google confirming it is the subject of a federal antitrust inquiry, even as the company works towards an antitrust settlement in the European Union and faces scrutiny in South Korea.
Schmidt, who until recently was Google’s chief executive, previously declined an invitation to testify to lawmakers. Google instead offered that its chief legal officer, David Drummond, would be happy to testify, but lawmakers insisted that top Google executives field questions about the company’s operations. Schmidt agreed, apparently stepping up for current Google CEO Larry Page.
The federal antitrust inquiry into Google currently centers on the company’s dominant position in the Internet search market, and whether the company is abusing that position to promote its own products and services and block out competitors.
Putting Schmidt in the Senate subcommittee hotseat could be a risky move for Google: Schmidt is known for making controversial public statements that seemingly contradict Google’s “don’t be evil” corporate motto. On a CNN program last year Schmidt suggested that anyone who wasn’t happy with Google Street View photographing their homes and places of business should “just move,” and on CNBC suggested that if people were engaging in any activities they didn’t want made available to the world online maybe “they shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Schmidt has also stated that Google aims to know what its users are thinking, through user profiling and monitoring locations and activities, and suggested perhaps people should get a free name change when they become adults so their irresponsible teenage online activities don’t follow them the rest of their lives.