Google employees organize against censored search service for China

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Dragonfly is reported to be an effort to provide Search and personalised mobile news to China, in compliance with Chinese government censorship and surveillance requirements.

"Most of us only learned about project Dragonfly through news reports in early August", the letter states".

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.

Dragonfly and Google's return to China raise urgent moral and ethical issues, the substance of which we are discussing elsewhere.

"We are not close to launching a search product in China", Mr Pichai said.

It says employees lack the information required "to make ethically informed decisions about our work" and complains that most employees only found out about the project after reading about in the press.

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Google did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post. They are concerned that by agreeing to censorship demands, Google would validate China's prohibitions on free expression and violate the "don't be evil" clause in the company's code of conduct.

China now has the world's largest online market, with 772 million internet users. After those discussions, a company official suggested changing the topic because the executives' comments were already being leaked online, one of the people said. Pichai pledged transparency as the development process advances and cast the potential for business in China as a boost to Google's mission.

"I think the team are exploring many options", Sundar Pichai said of the project. Earlier this summer, employees at urged chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos to discontinue partnerships with companies that work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and to end the sale of facial-recognition technology to law enforcement agencies. Undersigned Googlers expect future projects to have an ethics review structure that includes rank and file employee representatives; an ombudspeople; a clear plan to enable Googlers an individual ethical choice; and an ethical assessment of Dragonfly, among other projects.

"I genuinely do believe we have a positive impact when we engage around the world and I don't see any reason why that would be different in China", Pichai said.

"We'll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here".

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