A security guard is standing in front of Google's booth at China International Import Expo earlier this month in Shanghai.…
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Updated at 9:40 ET.
Several Google employees have become public with their opposition to tech giant’s plans to build a search engine tailor-made for China’s censorship requirements.
The project, named Dragonfly, would block certain sites and search terms as determined by the Chinese government – a feature that Google’s at least nine employees are equivalent to allowing for “state-of-the-art” surveillance.
“We are among thousands of employees who have raised our voices for months. International human rights organizations and investigative journalists have also alerted, stressed serious human rights issues, and repeatedly urge Google to cancel the project,” the original signatories of the letter, who published their open letters on Medium.
“So far,” they added, “Our leadership’s response has been unsatisfactory.”
In a draft that was shared with NPR prior to publication, employees claimed that the company’s leadership had offered “No Satisfactory Response” at all .
The news of the program first appeared on the The Intercept website, which reported in August that the custom search engine would “blacklis t sites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion and peaceful protest. “
Other news, such as The New York Times, backed up the report’s report and noted Google’s desire to tap the huge Chinese market – but adds that the work of the project makes
Google once again ran a censored version of its search engine in China, but it was pulled out of 2010 after friction with Beijing and significant backlash in the United States
Employees are not alone in expressing their fear of reporting about it new project development. In fact, they released their letter on the day Amnesty International launched its own protest. The human rights organization announced it would be to reach Google employees to add its name to an application calling on CEO Sundar Pichai to kill the project before it even can escape.
“This is a water momentum for Google,” Joe Westby, Amnesty’s Research re for technology and human rights, said in a statement Tuesday. “As the world’s number one search engine, it should fight for an internet where information is freely accessible to all, not supporting the Chinese government’s dystopian alternatives.”
This is not the first time Google’s leadership has become pushback within its own line of business policy. The tech giant decided not to renew a contract with the Pentagon after workers revolted over a controversial project involving artificial intelligence for drone footage analysis.
“Many of us accepted Google’s employment with the company’s values in mind, including its previous position on Chinese censorship and monitoring, and an understanding that Google was a company willing to place its values over profit,” said the employees. in his letter Tuesday.
“After a year of disappointment, including Project Maven, Dragonfly, and Google’s support for addicts, we no longer believe this is the case. That’s why we’re taking a stand,” they wrote.