Immigrants Bring Great Value to U.S.: Pramila Jayapal to Google CEOTop Stories

December 12, 2018 12:14
Immigrants Bring Great Value to U.S.: Pramila Jayapal to Google CEO

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An Indian-American Chief Executive officer of Google Sunder Pichai appeared before a Congressional committee for a grilling by lawmakers on the search engine giant's data privacy, where Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal highlighted the value of immigrants.

Sundar Pichai and Pramila Jayapal, holding reputable spheres of lives in the corporate world and politics respectively, were born in the state Tamil Nadu.

"Let me just take a point of personal privilege to say that I was born in the same state as you in India and I am excited to see you leading a company and continuing to show that immigrants to this country contribute great value, in spite of some of the rhetoric we hear. Thank you, Mr Pichai," she told the Google CEO.

Sundar Pichai, 46, was born in Chennai. A graduate from the IIT Kharagpur, he joined Google in 2004 and in 2015, was appointed the CEO of the company.

Jayapal, 53, too was born in Chennai and came to the United States as a student. Both passed through a similar immigration pathway, involving H-1B visa and Green Card, before becoming the U.S. citizens.

During the hearing, Jayapal asked questions to Pichai on sexual harassment and hate speech. "Do you agree with the UN high commissioner for human rights assessment that social media played a role, for example, in perpetuating genocide against the Rohingya and what is Google's response ability to moderate hate speech on your platforms?" she asked.

"We feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to moderate hate speech. You know, we have defined hate speech clearly as inciting violence or hatred towards groups of people," Pichai said.

"It is absolutely something which I think we need to take a very strict line on and we have stated our policies clearly and we are working hard to make our enforcement better and we have gotten a lot better. But it is not enough and so, we are committed to doing more here," he added.

In her remarks, Jayapal expressed her deep concerns about employers mandating forced arbitration rather than allowing people to pursue justice.

"Forcing people into arbitration when they have already experienced a violation of their basic rights I think is a deep injustice and it subjects people who have already been victimized to further victimization and we have seen research that shows that it discourages people from coming forward to report abuses, to begin with," she said.

Pichai said Google's arbitration agreements did not require any confidentiality provisions.

"That is how we have done it. But for sexual harassment, we agreed that it should be up to the employees and we give them a choice," he said.

"We are definitely looking into this further. It is an area where I have gotten feedback personally from our employees, so we are definitely reviewing what we could do and you know, I am looking forward to consulting and happy to think about more changes here," Pichai said.

Following Jayapal's remarks, Congressman Keith Rothfus said both the Indian-Americans were success stories of immigrants.

"I just want to echo what my colleague Pramila Jayapal had said. I am glad you are here at the committee but I am glad you are here in our country. You are a success story and I can just think of you sitting as a teenager in India, thinking that this was probably never even on your radar," he said.

"But you came to this country because this country had that promise out there and I want to thank you for being here today and encourage you to continue collaborating with this committee," Rothfus said.

-Sowmya Sangam

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