Google employees not happy about new plans for China

Google employees organize against censored search service for China | TheHill

Google employees push back on censored China search engine

The report states that about 1,400 employees have signed the letter (PDF) and it's being circulated on the company's communication channels. Eight years ago, as Google pulled censored web search out of China, Sergey Brin explained the decision, saying: "in some aspects of [government] policy, particularly with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see some earmarks of totalitarianism".

China has the world's largest Internet audience but has frustrated U.S. tech giants with content restrictions or outright blockages of services including Facebook and Instagram.

It is also the latest example of how Google's outspoken workforce has agitated for changes to strategy.

In April, thousands of staff criticised its work on a USA military programme developing artificial intelligence for drones.

If Google does end up re-entering the Chinese search market, it will find stiff competition.

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Reuters reported this month, the app is a bid to win approval from Beijing to provide a mobile search engine in China. Work on the project, code-named Dragonfly, has been ongoing secretly since 2017, raising concerns among employees that they have been unknowingly contributing to a project which will withhold information from the Chinese people.

"We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table, and a commitment to clear and open processes".

"Code Yellow" is a coding term to address issues.

Fox News has reached out to Google with a request for comment on this story. "But we don't comment on speculation about future plans"'.

Google managers and employees have a long tradition of not sharing what is said in all-hands meetings, known as TGIFs, but that changed on Thursday. And earlier on Thursday, a letter began to circulate among staff that called on the company's leaders to create an "ethics review structure" to ensure transparency on issues involving ethics.

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Microsoft, which has been working within Chinese government parameters for some time, has fallen foul of one of those rules before, when a chatbot AI couldn't help but mourn the victims of Tiennamen Square, whilst simultaneously warning the user it would be banned and reported.

In the letter leaked to the press this week, hundreds of signatories questioned if the company's recently revised morality clause was actually effective if it allowed for the construction of Dragonfly. They called for more transparency to understand the ethical consequences of their work. Employees are once again taking a stand against Google for engaging in morally questionable behavior. Google eventually conceded, in part, and released a series of ethical principles around its use of AI.

Human rights organisations and activists expressed their worry over Google's plans when they were shared earlier this month in U.S. media reports. They said the plans could be in violation the company's ethics code, which bars it from building or deploying technology that violates human rights.

China closely monitors the internet services and platforms its residents can access, with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and many Western news sites blocked in the mainland.

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