Google employees quitting over its China search project

A senior Google scientist has quit over the company’s plan to re-enter the Chinese search market, and he says he’s not the only one.

Several employees have resigned over Project Dragonfly, Google’s planned search app for China, according to a couple of reports. They include Jack Poulson, a senior research scientist who told the Intercept that he thinks he was one of five workers who quit. BuzzFeed reports that seven employees have left Google over the issue, which the company has largely kept under wraps.

It is the second time this year that Google employees have departed over ethical concerns. In May, dozens of employees reportedly quit because of the company’s contract to provide artificial intelligence to the Defense Department for analyzing drone footage. The employees worried that the AI would be used to improve the accuracy of drone strikes used in war. After the uproar, Google announced in June that it would not renew the contract when it expires next year, and CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled principles declaring that the company would not use its AI for harm.

On China and search, more than a thousand employees signed a protest letter after they found out about the project from an Intercept report in August. After that report, Google said it is “not close to launching a search product in China.”

Friday, a Google spokeswoman said “It is our policy to not comment on individual employees.”

Google closed down search in China in 2010 after that nation was found to have been attacking Gmail and other sites in its effort to crack down on Chinese human rights activists. Since then, it has linked to an unfiltered search page in Hong Kong from China, although there were later indications the company was making some concessions to China.

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Poulson, the scientist who quit, told the Intercept that he was concerned not just about a possible censored search engine in China but also that Google might host data in that nation, which could make the data of dissidents available to the Chinese government. Late last month, more than a dozen human rights groups including Amnesty International urged Google to reconsider returning a search engine to China, calling the company’s …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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