Google employees question company plans for Chinese search engine

Sergey Brin

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"Most of us only learned about project Dragonfly through news reports in early August", the letter states". Hundreds of the company's employees have written to headquarters to protest the project, which they say raises "urgent moral and ethical questions". "I think if we were to do our mission well, I think we have to think seriously about how we do more in China", he added, according to Bloomberg.

More than a thousand Google employees have signed a letter protesting the company's secretive plan to build a search engine that would comply with Chinese censorship.

It follows similar efforts by Google employees to challenge the internet giant's Pentagon work, which had raised concerns about involvement in weapons development.

Over 1,400 employees reportedly signed a petition demanding more insight into the project. 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".

Google would validate China's prohibitions on free expression and violate the "don't be evil" clause in the company's code of conduct.

"Dragonfly and Google's return to China raise urgent moral and ethical issues".

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Google, which has never spoken publicly about the plans, declined to comment.

After employees petitioned this year, Google announced it would not renew a project to help the US military develop artificial intelligence technology for drones. This time around, they're taking issue with Google's decision to create a government-approved search app for China, according to a New York Times report published on Thursday. The document referred to the situation as a "code yellow", a process used in engineering to address critical problems that impact several teams.

The same rationale led Google to enter China in 2006.

Google now has no presence in China after it removed itself in 2010 over censorship concerns.

Some employees are in favor of re-entering China, arguing that exiting the country in protest of censorship has done little to pressure Beijing to change its position while it has made Google nonessential among the world's largest base of internet users.

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

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