Google employees organize against censored search service for China

Gladys Abbott
August 19, 2018

However, eventually Google pulled out of China completely in 2010 after several large-scale attacks on the company purportedly by the Chinese government.

Specifically, staff at the tech giant have protested in huge numbers at the company's decision to launch a version of its search engine for the Chinese market, censored to block terms which the notoriously draconian government doesn't approve of.

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

According to the New York Times, at least 1,400 employees have signed a letter calling for transparency regarding the product. And so far, there's no indication that they have - the company declined the Times' request to comment on the letter.

Addressing this, Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai told employees at a meeting that plans to re-enter China with a search engine are "exploratory" and in "early stages". Employees also contend that the endeavour would violate Google's code of conduct, which famously includes a "don't be evil" clause. "And whether we would do so or could so is all very unclear, " Pichai also said.

The letter calls on executives to review ethics and transparency at the company.

The letter is similar to one thousands of employees had signed to protest against Project Maven, a USA military contract that Google decided in June not to renew.

Reports about Dragonfly, a censored search app, compelled over 1000 Google employees to petition against its launch in China.

More news: Pentagon: China building bombers, training pilots for missions against U.S.

The first two questions from staff members at Google's Thursday meeting were about Dragonfly, the people said.

China has the world's largest Internet audience but has frustrated USA tech giants with content restrictions or outright blockages of services including Facebook and Instagram.

The petition, seen by Reuters says, "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".

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.

Amnesty International called it "a dark day for the internet" if Google chose to push through its plans.

The fact that someone within Google was sharing info in real time appeared to anger some workers, one source said.

The former employees said they doubt the Chinese government will welcome back Google.

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