Google employees criticise 'censored China search engine'

18 August, 2018, 05:49 | Author: Mary Valdez
  • Google employees organize against censored search service for China | TheHill

"We, the undersigned, are calling for Code Yellow addressing Ethics and Transparency, asking leadership to work with employees to implement concrete transparency and oversight process", the petition said.

In the email through which the letter was being circulated, two employees said that individuals "organizing against the latest dubious project can not be our only safeguard against unethical decisions", according to BuzzFeed News.

The project, known internally as Dragonfly, was developed largely in secret, prompting outrage among employees who anxious they had been unwittingly working on technology that would help China withhold information from its citizens. According to the Times report, roughly 1,400 Google employees have signed a letter voicing their concerns over the issue. To do what the engineers are asking in the letter, Google has to agree.

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.

However, reports last month claimed it had been secretively working on a new Chinese search service, referred to internally as Dragonfly. Eight years ago, as Google pulled censored web search out of China, Sergey Brin explained the decision, saying: "in some aspects of [government] policy, particularly with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see some earmarks of totalitarianism".

Pichai also addressed the controversy surrounding the secrecy of the project, BuzzFeed News reported late on Thursday.

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Google employees penned a similar petition earlier this year in protest of Project Maven, a contract with the Pentagon for artificial intelligence work they said could be used for lethal purposes.

We reached out to Google but had not heard back at time of writing.

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

"You can never satisfy a censor, particularly the ones in China", said Charles Mok, a member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council who advocates for information technology and who is affiliated with the territory's democratic camp.

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". The app is said to comply with Chinese government censorship guidelines.

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