China Project "Unclear", Sundar Pichai Tells Google Staff After Concerns

Report Google Employees Fear Human Rights Violations over China Censorship Plan			Robert Galbraith  UPI		16 Aug 2018

Following similar action against secretive AI drone imaging program for the USA military, Project Maven, Googlers are once again organising internally to push back against their leadership - this time around a project dubbed Dragonfly, the proposed search product the company intends to build for the Chinese market in accordance with government-mandated censorship.

"I think the team are exploring many options", Sundar Pichai said of the project.

Google has faced China's censorship before when it withdrew from the country in 2010 in response to its censorship norms.

Google has not officially commented on the project, but following the letter, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees the project is still in early stages of development and it is still unknown if the search engine would launch at all.

Some employees are said to be in favor of re-entering China, saying the decision to exit didn't really cause much trouble to local authorities and Google is missing out on the worlds largest base of internet users.

Hoping to gain approval from the Chinese government to provide a mobile search service, the company plans to block some websites and search terms, Reuters reported this month, citing two people familiar with the matter.

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According to the report, the secretive project, codenamed Dragonfly, led to a protest by 1,000 Google employees who objected to the company's efforts at supporting the restrictive, state-sponsored censorship.

"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, seen by Reuters news agency, reads.

The letter is similar to one thousands of employees had signed in protest of Project Maven, a USA military contract that Google decided in June not to renew. Google spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Pichai told employees: "We'll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here" on Dragonfly, according to the transcript.

Google's search engine is now blocked in China due to tight controls over speech. It left in 2010 over an escalating dispute with regulators that was capped by what security researchers identified as state-sponsored cyber-attacks against Google and other large USA firms.

Employees are concerned by agreeing to Chinese censorship it would violate Google's "don't be evil" code of conduct.

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