Google employees leaked this letter to The New York Times demanding more transparency within the company stating, “Google employees need to know what we’re building.” It references Google’s new project for China– a search engine internally called Dragonfly that would abide by Chinese censorship restrictions. Read on to learn more.
This search engine would blacklist human rights, democracy, peaceful protest, and other topics deemed dangerous by the government in Beijing. Developers and other Google employees contributed to this without knowing their work would suppress information from China’s citizenry.
Eight years ago Google used to operate their search engine in China before moving to Hong Kong in protest of Chinese censorship and government tampering. According to The New York Times, China has only restricted its censorship further since 2010.
Google employees have questioned the ethical implications of their projects before. In April thousands signed a letter against Project Maven, an AI technology that would make drone strikes more precise. In June Google didn’t renew their contract with the Pentagon.
Google is an outlier among tech companies because it encourages such internal debate and even has a platform (Dory) to organize the most popular employee queries to ask executives.
Microsoft’s Bing search engine already operates in China, though it ranks far below the homegrown engine Baidu. Similarly when Google was present in 2010, it was less popular than Baidu, making the quality of results in Baidu far superior to those generated by Google.
However, that doesn’t exculpate Google from developing this new engine in accordance to Beijing’s illiberal regulations.
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