Google employees signed a public letter asking their company’s leadership to scrap plans to build a censored search engine exculsively for China, internally codenamed as Project Dragonfly.
In a bid to re-enter the Chinese market, Google was working to launch a censored version of its search engine that will adhere to the draconian content regulation enforced by the ruling communist regime.
Over 300 Google employees have so far signed the letter as of Tuesday (27 November) evening. “Our opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be,” the letter reads.
The letter also adds that the project “comes as the Chinese government is openly expanding its surveillance powers and tools of population control” and “would establish a dangerous precedent, at a volatile political moment.”
In August, around 1,400 employees signed a letter internally raising ethical concerns about the project. The Chinese search application was developed to automatically identify and filter websites blocked by the Great Firewall.
The search engine project was conceptualised last year and has gained momentum following a December 2017 meeting between Google’s Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official.
On similar lines, Google had reportedly created customised Android apps, and demonstrated them to the Chinese internet officials. It is likely to launch these in the next six months, after Chinese.
In 2010, Google had decided to shut down its Chinese search engine and moved its Chinese-language search platform to Hong Kong. Google’s search service is currently unavailable for internet users in China because it is blocked by the country’s formidable Great Firewall, named after the Great Wall of China.
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