Google employees protest against China search engine

Google employees organize against censored search service for China | TheHill

Google employees organize against censored search service for China | TheHill

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. The letter said Google's willingness to work within China's censorship laws raises "urgent moral and ethical issues", and that employees now don't have the information needed "to make ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects and our employment".

Google withdrew its search engine from the county in 2010 after it suffered what it called a sophisticated cyberattack targeting human rights activists there and amid heightened the pressure of government censorship.

As a direct result of government censorship, American internet giants including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all now banned in China. And so far, there's no indication that they have - the company declined the Times' request to comment on the letter.

They urged their company to be more transparent about its work. 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.

Employee anger flared with a report this month in The Intercept that Google is secretly building a search engine that will filter content banned in China and thus meet Beijing's tough censorship rules.

Codenamed "Dragonfly", Google's experimental search engine has apparently been under development since 2017.

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Over 1,400 employees reportedly signed a petition demanding more insight into the project.

The exit from China was a seminal moment for the company - a symbol of its uncompromising idealism captured by Google's unofficial motto of "Don't Be Evil".

Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly and the remarks at the company meeting are the first time the project has been mentioned since details about it were leaked. It has been actively seeking a way back into the country ever since.

Google has always been a hub for curious minds, keen to know more about how the world works, and what it has to offer.

The letter argues that the search engine project and Google's apparent willingness to accept China's censorship requirements "raise urgent moral and ethical issues".

"Then the Chinese government can say, 'Google is OK with it too, '" he said.

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