Google Employees Protest Secretive Plans for a Censored Chinese Search Engine

Google employees organize against censored search service for China | TheHill

Google employees organize against censored search service for China | TheHill

The discussion with staff followed a report by the Intercept earlier this month that revealed Google's plans to develop a China-compliant search engine that would prevent Chinese users from accessing websites and using search queries blacklisted by the government.

On Thursday, according to the New York Times, Google's chief executive told staff that development of the search engine was at an early stage and the company was not close to launching a search app in China.

The letter is similar to one thousands of employees had signed in protest of Project Maven, a USA military contract that Google decided in June not to renew.

"Currently we do not have the information required to make ethically informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment", the workers say.

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". So Google's interest in returning to China - which it pulled out of in 2010 amid concerns over censorship - comes as no surprise. Google's cloud division is also in talks with multiple Chinese companies about partnerships in the country as the internet search giant seeks ways to get back into the world's second-biggest economy, Bloomberg News has reported.

Google is yet to comment on the matter.

"The team has been in an exploration stage for quite a while now, and I think they are exploring many options", Pichai said during an internal meeting.

Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly, and their remarks at the company-wide meeting marked their first about the project since details about it were leaked.

Google would validate China's prohibitions on free expression and violate the "don't be evil" clause in the company's code of conduct. 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.

"China is one-fifth of the world's population". More than 1,000 employees have signed a letter demanding more transparency over the project so they do not unwittingly suppress freedom of speech.

"I genuinely do believe we have a positive impact when we engage around the world and I don´t see any reason why that would be different in China".

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