1400 Google Employees Protest Launch Of Censored Search Engine In China
August 22nd, 2018 / 5:46 PM
Image Credits: Google Plus
Google’s decision to launch a censored search engine in China has met with widespread criticisms from its employees. According to BBC reports, the employees are quoted saying that the project has raised moral and ethical dilemmas among them and they are urging the multinational company to be more transparent in this deal. They say that at present they do not possess enough information to make “ethically informed decisions” about this project.
The news was brought out by The Intercept, an investigative outlet, which claimed that according to internal Google documents the project has been underway since last year and has gained momentum after the December 2017 meeting between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and the Chinese government officials. According to them, the finalized version will be launched in six to nine months after approval from the Chinese government.
Google had quit China eight years ago citing moral issues against the country strict censorship laws and declining to work with the government’s hacks. But the secret project with China, named Dragonfly, which The Intercept is claiming to be a new Chinese search engine which will censor certain websites and searches for human rights and religions, with the disclaimer stating that “some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements.” The document marked ‘Google Confidential’ cites websites like news broadcaster BBC and Wikipedia among those which will be censored.
Employees request transparency
The Google employees working on the project have requested the company to provide them transparency via a letter to the company. Around 1400 employees have signed the letter, which expresses concerns about Google violating its ethical principles. The letter quotes, “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 urges Google to enact code yellow, which is the standard way an engineering organisation addresses a problem that includes multiple groups. By declaring code yellow, the organisation is required to identify a person to take responsibility for the challenge and start the process of solving the issue.
Google has declined to comment on the issue. At a town hall meeting of the employees, Google CEO Sundar Pichai made some clarification the regarding the company’s stand on the issue. He said that they are currently exploring their options and that they were not anywhere close to launching the final product. Pichai added, “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.” He assured his employees that the company would be transparent and more engaging with its employees as they get closer to having a plan of action.
Written by : Bindiya (Intern)
Edited by : Shraddha Goled