Google employees sign protest letter over China search engine

Google employees organize against censored search service for China | TheHill

The company faced backlash from employees after The Intercept published a report stating that it planned to launch a censored version of its search engine in China. Google pulled its servers from mainland China in 2010 over concerns with government censorship, a decision Brin primarily drove.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees at a recent meeting that the company was not close to launching a search product in China, CNBC reported.

"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", says the document. "I think if we were to do our mission well, I think we have to think seriously about how we do more in China", he added, according to Bloomberg.

The tech giant had already come under fire this year from thousands of employees who signed a petition against a $10-million contract with the USA military, which was not renewed.

In the letter, which is an internal petition, the employees asked for more transparency and oversight of Project Dragonfly, the project's internal title.

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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. That the decision to build Dragonfly was made in secret, and progressed even with the AI Principles in place makes clear that the Principles alone are not enough.

Google, which has never spoken publicly about the plans, declined to comment. Yet most of us only learned about project Dragonfly through news reports [in] early August.

Pichai told employees: "We'll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here" on Dragonfly, according to the transcript. "He noted the company guards information on some projects where sharing too early can 'cause issues".

Three former employees involved with Google's past efforts in China told Reuters current leadership may see offering limited search results in China as better than providing no information at all. It left in 2010 over an escalating dispute with regulators that was capped by what security researchers identified as state-sponsored cyber-attacks against Google and other large USA firms. 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.

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