Google employees protest secret work on censored search engine for China

Report Google Employees Fear Human Rights Violations over China Censorship Plan			Robert Galbraith  UPI		16 Aug 2018

Google has been working on an app to bring its censored search engine back to mainland China, in a move that would allow the United States technology company to reach the 772m internet users in China who can not now use its services.

Mr Pichai told staff Google's mission was to "organise the world's information". So Google's interest in returning to China - which it pulled out of in 2010 amid concerns over censorship - comes as no surprise.

Addressing this, Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai told employees at a meeting that plans to re-enter China with a search engine are "exploratory" and in "early stages".

The latest petition says employees are concerned the China project, codenamed Dragonfly, "makes clear" that ethics principles Google issued during the drone debate "are not enough".

Reports surfaced two weeks ago that Google was developing a project, called Dragonfly, to launch a mobile search app that would censor results in compliance with the Chinese government.

'The team has been in an exploration stage for quite a while now, and I think they are exploring many options, ' he added.


According to the New York Times, at least 1,400 employees have signed a letter calling for transparency regarding the product.

Human rights and press freedom groups have criticized Google's possible renewed collaboration with Beijing, which has restricted or banned many American tech companies, including Facebook and Instagram.

In June, Google decided against renewing a USA military contract called Project Maven after staff penned a separate letter.

"We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we're building", the letter, seen by Reuters news agency, reads. Google didn't respond to requests for comment. "He noted the company guards information on some projects where sharing too early can 'cause issues".

Google services, including its search engine, Gmail and Google Drive, are all blocked in China. They said the plans could be in violation the company's ethics code, which bars it from building or deploying technology that violates human rights. A Chinese official, who declined to be named, told Reuters this month that it was "very unlikely" Dragonfly would be available this year.

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