Google employees sign protest letter over China search engine
Google employees sign protest letter over China search engine
Report Google Employees Fear Human Rights Violations over China Censorship Plan Robert Galbraith UPI 16 Aug 2018
17 August, 2018, 19:56
Following similar action against secretive AI drone imaging program for the United States military, Project Maven, Googlers are once again organising internally to push back against their leadership - this time around a project dubbed Dragonfly, the proposed search product the company intends to build for the Chinese market in accordance with government-mandated censorship.
Employees are concerned by agreeing to Chinese censorship it would violate Google's "don't be evil" code of conduct. Google co-founder Sergey Brin also spoke to the staff Thursday at the company's all-hands meeting, saying that Google isn't compromising its principles.
Google has not officially commented on the project, but following the letter, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees the project is still in early stages of development and it is still unknown if the search engine would launch at all.
"We are not close to launching a search product in China", Mr Pichai said.
According to the letter, the employees are demanding more transparency so they can understand the moral implications of their work. Undersigned Googlers expect future projects to have an ethics review structure that includes rank and file employee representatives; an ombudspeople; a clear plan to enable Googlers an individual ethical choice; and an ethical assessment of Dragonfly, among other projects.
Back at the beginning of the month we heard of a project called Dragonfly, aiming to bring back Google Search to China but with revised mechanisms and abiding by the censorship laws in China.
In the email through which the letter was being circulated, two employees said that individuals "organizing against the latest dubious project can not be our only safeguard against unethical decisions", according to BuzzFeed News.
Employees urged the internet giant's leadership to recognize a "code yellow situation", an internal alert that signifies a crisis, The Interceptreported.
China has the world's largest internet audience but United States tech firms have struggled to take off in China due to content restrictions and blockages.
Facebook, Google, Twitter and Instagram are all banned, although Google still has three offices in the country.
"I think the team are exploring many options", Sundar Pichai said of the project. "I think if we were to do our mission well, I think we have to think seriously about how we do more in China", Mr Pichai said.
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