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Google employees revolt over censored search engine project for China, reports say

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Google reportedly strengthened the Communist China ties

Google shut down the Chinese search engine in 2010. But new reports say Google is building a new, censored search engine that will allow it to re-enter the Chinese market, where it will be actively aiding the Communist police state. Last year, Google opened a large artificial intelligence research center in China. #Tucker

Google employees have written a letter to the management of the company expressing their dissatisfaction with the tech giant proposed search engine for China, which would see certain search results be censored on the Chinese government’s request. Employees have demanded that the company be more transparent about the decisions, and the letter also raises the project’s ethics into question.

The letter, obtained by BuzzFeed News, claims that the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant is a need for more transparency about how it works and send that to its employees. “Our industry has entered a new era of ethical responsibility: the choices we make on a global scale,” explains the letter, which specifically refer to the Chinese search engine project, called Dragonfly.

The letter continues:

“But most of us have learned about project Dragonfly, via news reports in the beginning of August. Dragonfly is reportedly an attempt to search and personalized mobile news to China, in accordance with the Chinese government censorship and surveillance requirements. Eight years ago, after Google Pulled censored websearch from China, Sergey Brin explained the decision, saying: “In some aspects of the [government] policy, particularly with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see a number of characteristics of totalitarianism.’ Dragonfly and Google’s return to China to raise urgent moral and ethical issues, the substance that we discuss elsewhere.”

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The letter is signed by about 1000 people in the company, according to The New York Times, which first reported the criticism.

In addition, the letter also asks the management to meet the following four conditions with respect to ethics and transparency:

1. An ethical structure that includes members of the representatives of the employees

2. The appointment of ombudspeople with meaningful employee input in their selection

3. A clear plan for the transparency to be sufficient to Googlers an individual ethical choice about what they work on; and

4. The publication of “ethical test cases”; an ethical review of the Dragonfly, Maven, and air Gap GCP with regard to the AI principles; ordinary, official, internal, visible communication and evaluations with regard to any new areas of significant ethical concern.

Fox News has reached Google with a request to comment on this story.

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Google’s rocky history in China

The rumors of the Chinese search engine have spread over the past few weeks after The Intercept reported that it had seen leaked documents, suggests that Sundar Pichai-led Google was planning to re-enter China, almost 8 years after leaving the country.

The search engine would be app-based, would be the removal of items with certain words or phrases, and would apply to image search, suggested search functions and automatic spell checking. It would also be “black-listed sensitive queries”, so no results are displayed when someone searches for a particular word or phrase, The Intercept added.

The app will also identify topics and websites that are blocked by the chinese Great Firewall, according to the documents. According to the documents seen by The Intercept, examples that are censored are British broadcaster BBC and Wikipedia.

In 2010, Google famously announced it was leaving China, specifically mentioning China censoring tactics as a reason for pulling out of the country.

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Adverse reaction to Dragonfly

If the rumors of the China-based search engine have trickled out in the press, reaction on social media has been negative, with many calling the company’s infamous “Don’t be evil” motto in question.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that in the 21st century, one of the most powerful countries in the world denies the citizens access to common knowledge,” a user wrote. “If Google cares about its reputation (at the least), then it should definitely reconsider project Dragonfly.”

It is quite ridiculous that in the 21st century, one of the most powerful countries in the world denies the citizens access to common knowledge. If Google worry about the reputation (at the least), then it should definitely reconsider project Dragonfly.https://t.co/8NVghaFTxs

— Daria Leshchenko (@dariajollyswell) August 7, 2018

Another person, a self-described “Silicon Valley refugee,” simply said that Project Dragonfly is EVIL‼️

Project Dragonfly is EVIL‼️

— zerepmot (@zerepmot) August 8, 2018

Earlier this year, Google has dropped “do no evil” of the official code of conduct.

The Intercept notes that only a “few hundred” employees in the company know about the project. According to the most recent quarterly report, the Alphabet (Google ‘ s parent company), working 89,058 people of 30 June.

Earlier this year, the employees of the company also objected to Google’s work with the U.S. army, known as Project Maven, a controversial program that uses artificial intelligence to improve drone targeting.

Several employees even resigned in protest against the work of the company, with a number of employees writing a letter to Pichai that the company is “not in the business of the war”.

According to media reports, Google will not move to another contract when the current Project Maven contract expires in 2019.

Fox News’ Christopher Carbone and James Rogers contributed to this report. Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

 

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