Over 1,000 Google workers protest censored China search

Angelica Greene
August 21, 2018

The ultimate outcome of Google's efforts to create a censored search engine in China may well rest on high-level state negotiations.

More than a thousand Google employees have signed a letter criticising the company's plan to launch a heavily censored version of its search engine in China.

The new project is said to be codenamed "Dragonfly". How will Google safeguard its Chinese users' data from the Communist Party regime, which routinely targets people - including human rights activists and journalists - who express criticism of its orthodoxies? This, along with all the censorship laws, forced Google to withdraw from China after 4 years of existence.

At that time, Google Engineering Vice President Ben Gomes announced changes to the company's search algorithm aimed at promoting "authoritative" news sources over "alternative viewpoints". It is possible that they may have come up with better rules with the Chinese government on the new search engine. Only about several hundred of them were aware of the project, the report stated. "By letting Google's search engine back into China, the Chinese government could give President Trump a political victory, earning some good will".

The added subtopics, automatically generated based on Google's "understanding of these topics from content on the web", will be rolling out in the next few days.

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

Over 1400 employees have signed this petition and it is being circulated within Google's internal systems.

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It appears, for the time being, Google is continuing work on its future products for the Chinese market.

"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. 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.

Some of these statements were posted on Twitter, and since then, both the CEO and the Co-founder Sergey Brin stopped responding to questions regarding the Dragonfly project.

This one is not a sole example of Google employees have spoken against the decisions of the company.

Earlier this year, Google dropped "Don't be evil" from its official code of conduct.

Google was forced to backtrack, nominally canceling the "Project Maven" program and adopting a set of ethical guidelines for the use of artificial intelligence. "If Google cares about its reputation (at the very least) then it should definitely reconsider project Dragonfly". It goes against its principals as it would stop Chinese citizens from gaining access to rightful information.

Other reports by GizPress

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