Google Hearings Hint at the Future of the Internet

Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) stock fell marginally – 0.02% - on December 13. Shares have dropped 9.1% over the past three months as U.S. tech stocks have suffered a broad retreat.

U.S. tech firms have taken turns in front of Congress in 2018. This week Google CEO Sundar Pichai fielded questions that covered a wide variety of topics. Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) EO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled earlier this year, and this hearing was more of the same. There are, however, long-term implications for what these meetings will mean for big tech companies and the internet at large.

The internet is increasingly becoming a geopolitical battleground. Members of Congress like House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy stated: "We need to know that Google is on the side of the Free World." This alludes to questions of domestic censorship, and cooperation with foreign governments like China.

Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, recently made a stunning prediction in an interview with the New York Times. "In the next 10 to 15 years, the internet would most likely be split in two – one internet led by China and one internet led by the United States." Google has continued to operate and work with the Chinese government, which has drawn the ire of China hawks in the U.S. government.

It is likely that Google will come under increased pressure in the coming months and years to reorient its commitments, especially as US-China tensions intensify.