Earlier this month, a report has surfaced stating that Google is secretly building a new search engine specifically for China. The search engine would be censored and would not show content that Bejing has banned. This is clearly against Google’s ethics, and therefore, employees have signed a petition questioning the company’s methods and asking it to be more transparent about the project.
Google Censored Search Engine: Employee Protest
The project, which agrees with China’s censorship demands, is said to be known as Dragonfly. This would be Google’s second entry into China since it exited the country in . 2010. Google withdrew its services in 2010, including the search engine, to protest the severe censorship laws in China.
The company had also stated that Chinese hackers had tried to hack its servers and steal information from Gmail accounts of human rights activists. This, along with all the censorship laws, forced Google to withdraw from China after 4 years of existence. And now, it wants to just the opposite with this secret search engine project. It is possible that they may have come up with better rules with the Chinese government on the new search engine.
The employees were not given details about the project and they are now angry after a report leaked about Google working on such a project. This search engine will supposedly censor topics regarding free speech, democracy, human rights, politics, and so on. It would outright not show content on any of these topics. The petition raises issues regarding morals and ethics, and states that the employees do not have the information needed to make the right decisions about their work, projects, and employment.
Over 1400 employees have signed this petition and it is being circulated within Google’s internal systems. As per the report, the letter went on to state;
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.
Google Censored Search Engine: What CEO Says?
It also mentioned that Google should allow its employees to take part in reviewing such products and to have complete transparency. The employees also spoke about the project directly to Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, during a weekly staff meeting. He stated that the project is still in an exploration mode, and the company is nowhere close to launching a search engine in China. He also said that Google definitely wants to be in China and do things, and will do its mission well. Talking to Bloombery, the CEO said;
China is one-fifth of the world’s population. I think if we were to do our mission well, I think we have to think seriously about how we do more in China. 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. We’ll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here. We definitely do plan to engage more and talk more.
Some of these statements were posted on Twitter, and since then, both the CEO and the Co-founder Sergey Brin stopped responding to questions regarding the Dragonfly project.
This isn’t the first time that Google’s employees have raised an issue against the workings of the company. Earlier this year, employees protested against Google’s involvement in an AI project to improve weapons for the Pentagon. The company did not renew the contract with Pentagon for that project, and also laid out some ethical principles about the use of its Artificial Intelligence.
Well, where is the ethics in this project that Google might be undertaking. It goes against its principals as it would stop Chinese citizens from gaining access to rightful information.