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Google staff urge firm to ditch ‘oppressive’ Chinese search engine

A GROUP of pissed off Google staffers published an open letter on Tuesday urging the firm to ditch its plans to build an “oppressive” censored search engine for China.

The plans, codenamed ‘Project Dragonfly’, were recently confirmed by Google head honcho Sundar Pichai, who said that the development of the controversial search engine is going “very well.”

However, the search engine has been roundly criticised by human rights groups following reports that it would allow the Chinese government to blacklist certain search terms and control air quality data. A recent report also claimed that it would tie users’ search history to their phone number and would be designed to be traceable by Chinese authorities.

Google’s staffers, which have already voiced their concerns over “unethical” Project Dragonfly, on Tuesday published an open letter urging the company to cancel the project, which it claims makes the firm complicit in human rights abuses by the Chinese government.

“Many of us accepted employment at Google with the company’s values in mind, including its previous position on Chinese censorship and surveillance, and an understanding that Google was a company willing to place its values above its profits,” the letter, signed by 36 employees at the time of writing, reads. “After a year of disappointments … we no longer believe this is the case.

“Giving the Chinese government ready access to user data, as required by Chinese law, would make Google complicit in oppression and human rights abuses. Dragonfly would also enable censorship and government-directed disinformation, and destabilize the ground truth on which popular deliberation and dissent rely …

“We refuse to build technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be.”

This letter comes as Amnesty International protesters gather outside Google’s offices to protest the Project Dragonfly.  

In a press release published on Tuesday, Joe Westby, Amnesty International’s researcher on Technology and Human Rights, said: “This is a watershed moment for Google. As the world’s number one search engine, it should be fighting for an internet where information is freely accessible to everyone, not backing the Chinese government’s dystopian alternative.

“Many of Google’s own staff have spoken out against these plans, unwilling to play a role in the Chinese government’s manipulation of information and persecution of dissidents. Their courageous and principled stance puts Google’s leadership to shame.

“Today we are standing with Google staff and asking them to join us in calling on Sundar Pichai to drop Project Dragonfly and reaffirm Google’s commitment to human rights.” µ

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Source : Inquirer

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