Google employees sign protest letter over China search engine NYT

Joanna Estrada
August 19, 2018

At least 1,400 Google employees signed a letter to company leaders demanding more transparency over a project the tech giant is working on that could be accepted by the Chinese government.

The effort, dubbed "Project Dragonfly" internally, reportedly included blocking search results for sensitive queries, like "peaceful protest", or suppressing certain search results off of the first page.

Brin was one of the main reasons Google pulled out of China in 2010; at the time, he compared the government's attempts to enforce censorship and hack Gmail as having "the earmarks of totalitarianism" of the Soviet Union.

With the secret project, Google employees are reportedly anxious that they might unknowingly be working on technology that could help China hide information from its people.

The employees are reportedly anxious about kowtowing to China by implementing the government's requests for censorship.

The letter by employees does not address the substance of the "moral and ethical issues" raised by Project Dragonfly, but demands that the company provide employees with more information about the tools it is developing.

Fox News has reached out to Google with a request for comment on this story.

But the search engine giant's growing capabilities has it feeling lucky too.

The app will also identify topics and websites that are blocked by China's Great Firewall, according to the documents.

Google has since ended its AI contract with the Pentagon.

As rumors of the China-based search engine have trickled out in the press, reaction on social media has been negative, with many calling the company's infamous "Don't be evil" motto into question.

In April 2017, Google responded to intensifying pressure from the USA political establishment and intelligence agencies by implementing a censorship system in the United States targeting principally left-wing, anti-war and socialist organizations. Google has since its early years maintained a list of "10 things" that represent foundational values for the company.

The Intercept notes that only a "few hundred" employees at the company know about the project.

The employees were not given details about the project and they are now angry after a report leaked about Google working on such a project.

The letter and Thursday's meeting follow the publication of an open letter in April, signed by over 1,000 employees, demanding that the company end its collaboration with the Pentagon on artificial intelligence systems created to power the United States military's drone warfare program.

Several employees even resigned in protest at the company's work, with a number of employees writing a letter to Pichai that the company "should not be in the business of war".

After the letter, Google chose to withdraw from that project.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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