Google employees organize against censored search service for China

Google employees organize against censored search service for China
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Google employees are protesting the company’s reported efforts to build a censored search service that would allow it to enter the Chinese market.

More than a thousand workers have signed a letter, obtained by The Hill, demanding greater transparency and ethical oversight within the company as well as more say in the projects that Google takes on.

The letter says that employees did not find out about the project, nicknamed Dragonfly, until The Intercept and other outlets reported its existence.

“Here, we address an underlying structural problem: currently, we do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment,” the letter reads.

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“That the decision to build Dragonfly was made in secret, and progressed even with the AI Principles in place makes clear that the Principles alone are not enough,” it continues. “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.”

The letter was first reported by The New York Times. It follows similar efforts by Google employees to challenge the internet giant’s Pentagon work, which had raised concerns about involvement in weapons development.

Google’s search engine is currently blocked in China due to tight controls over speech. It used to have a censored version of the service in the country, but pulled out in the face of heavy criticism in 2010.

The Intercept reported earlier this month that Google is working on the new project to break back into the highly-coveted Chinese market. The service would reportedly comply with strict Chinese censorship laws, filtering out information deemed unfavorable by the ruling Communist Party.