Google employees speak up against 'censored search engine for China'

Google employees organize against censored search service for China | TheHill

While expressing interest in continuing to expand the company's services in China, Pichai told the employees that the company was "not close" to launching a search product there and that whether it would - or could - "is all very unclear", the CNBC report said.

Pichai's comments follow reports about Google building a custom-version of its search engine to abide by the Chinese rules and deliver censored search results, Cnet reported. Dragonfly is reported to be an effort to provide Search and personalised mobile news to China, in compliance with Chinese government censorship and surveillance requirements.

In a bid to re-enter the China market, Google is building a special search engine that would block websites and search terms deemed sensitive by Beijing, media reports said earlier this month.

Are Google's employees (well, some of them) right to push back in this way?

But according to two sources, when the meeting finally ended, it didn't go unnoticed that many details regarding Google's plans for China were still unknown.

Pichai said that the company's not close to launching a search product for China. Many tech workers now feel they have the opportunity to influence how their companies approach ethical questions.

The letter's contents were confirmed by a Google employee who helped organise it but who requested anonymity. One Google employee who had stood to ask a question suddenly addressed whomever was surreptitiously leaking information.

"F-k you", said the male Google employee standing at the microphone during a pivotal moment at the company all-hands meeting on Thursday night.

Google originally exited China in in 2010 after the company discovered an attack on its corporate infrastructure by Chinese hackers. Google's management released a set of governing principles for AI that included a promise never to build AI weapons, and said it would allow its AI contract with the Pentagon to expire. Last year, Google announced plans for a research center in China focused on artificial intelligence.

"It's quite ridiculous that in the 21st century one of the most powerful countries in the world denies its citizens access to common knowledge", one user wrote.

Here, we address an underlying structural problems: now we do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment.

Progress on the project picked up after a December meeting between Google's Chief Executive Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official, it added.

Facebook, Google, Twitter and Instagram are all banned, although Google still has three offices in the country.

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