More than 1000 Google workers protest censored China search

Google employees organize against censored search service for China | TheHill

Google employees push back on censored China search engine

The employees, who represent a fraction of parent company Alphabet's workforce of 89,000, also were upset by the secrecy of the project and in the petition demanded more transparency about the company's myriad ventures, which range from self-driving cars to advanced artificial intelligence.

As was evidenced when Google employees protested the company's involvement with Project Maven, a project which helped the U.S. Government use improve the accuracy of drone strikes, Google's workforce can be steadfast in their demonstrations.

Back in 2010 Google had an issue with Chinese hackers and in response pulled out all its major services from the country.

As a direct result of government censorship, American internet giants including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all now banned in China.

It is also the latest example of how Google's outspoken workforce has agitated for changes to strategy.

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That was before news leaked late past year that Google had agreed to provide the Pentagon with artificial intelligence that could help analyze drone video footage.

Google has since ended its AI contract with the Pentagon.

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.

The letter said employees lack the information required "to make ethically informed decisions about our work" and complained that most employees only found out about the project - nicknamed Dragonfly - through media reports. Hundreds of the company's employees have written to headquarters to protest the project, which they say raises "urgent moral and ethical questions".

Google did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post. "We'll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here".

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Pending approval, the service could be launched in the next nine months, the report stated. Other questions on Dory asked directly about the Dragonfly project and specific information that may be censored by the Chinese government, such as air pollution data. It will be the first such meeting since details about Dragonfly were leaked.

The employees are demanding more transparency so they can understand the moral implications of their work, said the Times, which obtained a copy of the letter.

Before knowledge of the Dragonfly project was public, only a few hundred out of 88,000 Google employees were privy to the China project.

The search engine in question would block search terms like "human rights" and "religion", creating a culture of censorship which Google staff are ill at ease with. They said the plans could be in violation the company's ethics code, which bars it from building or deploying technology that violates human rights.

The discussions became tense when Google's leaders discovered that someone attending the meeting or listening in remotely was supplying live information to Conger, the Times reporter.

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On August 1, investigative outlet The Intercept broke the news that Google had been working on a search app for China since the spring of 2017.

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