Google Employees Protest Over Its Censored Search In China
Earlier this month, Google employees staged a walkout protest at its office the globe to mark their discontent over the company’s treatment of sexual harassment cases. And now, Googlers have raised their voice over the company’s censored search engine in China.
More than 200 Google employees have joined a petition protesting against the plans of the tech giant to build a search engine that is tailored to meet the demands of China’s censorship regime. In an open letter shared on Medium, Google employees extended their support to Amnesty International, which in its global petition has called on the Google chief executive officer Sundar Pichai to drop the censored search engine that is codenamed Project Dragonfly.
“Our opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be,” the Google employees wrote in the letter adding that, “Dragonfly in China would establish a dangerous precedent at a volatile political moment, one that would make it harder for Google to deny other countries similar concessions.”
“We join with Amnesty International in demanding that Google cancel Dragonfly. We also demand that leadership commit to transparency, clear communication, and real accountability,” the letter said.
The reports of Google working on a search engine tailored to meet the demands of the Chinese regime first surfaced in August this year. Reports suggested that the company’s search engine would not only display a censored version of its content in the country but it would also link the searches to the users’ phone numbers.
Early reports suggested that the search engine would be jointly operated with a company based in mainland China that would also have the ability to update the list of blacklisted words, which includes words like– student protest, Nobel Prize and human rights among other things.
The development had raised concerns among the human rights advocates who had argued that such a program would strengthen the scope of surveillance in the country. Despite the discontent, both internal and external, Google said that it would not cancel the project. “We wanted to learn what it would look like if Google were in China…I think it’s important for us given how important the market is and how many users there are,” Pichai had said in an interview last month.