Google employees protest plans to build censored search engine in China
18 August 2018
Hundreds of Google employees have protested the company’s moves to build a censored search engine in China, the New York Times reported Friday.
The Times article follows an August 1 article by the Intercept reporting that the company has secretly devoted a team of engineers and developers to constructing a search engine that would comply with China’s strict regime of Internet censorship.
Google famously ended its search operations in China in 2010, protesting the country’s strict demands that users be prevented from accessing critical websites and topics. But it has dropped all such scruples in the more recent period.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai confirmed the existence of the operation, known internally as Project Dragonfly, at an all-hands meeting with employees on Thursday. At the same time, he sought to downplay the revelation, saying the company was not “close” to rolling out the product and that Google’s expansion in China was “slow-going and complicated.”
The letter by employees does not address the substance of the “moral and ethical issues” raised by Project Dragonfly, but demands that the company provide employees with more information about the tools it is developing. “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 concludes.
The letter and Thursday’s meeting follow the publication of an open letter in April, signed by over 1,000 employees, demanding that the company end its collaboration with the Pentagon on artificial intelligence systems designed to power the US military’s drone warfare program.
Google was forced…