Google employees sign protest letter over China search engine

Sergey Brin

Following similar action against secretive AI drone imaging program for the U.S. military, Project Maven, Googlers are once again organising internally to push back against their leadership - this time around a project dubbed Dragonfly, the proposed search product the company intends to build for the Chinese market in accordance with government-mandated censorship.

Mr Pichai told staff Google's mission was to "organise the world's information".

However, eventually Google pulled out of China completely in 2010 after several large-scale attacks on the company purportedly by the Chinese government.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees at a recent meeting that the company was not close to launching a search product in China, CNBC reported.

"We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we're building", the letter said.

Google's interest in bringing search back to China came to the forefront earlier this month, when reports surfaced that the company was working on a search app that restricts content banned by Beijing.

'The team has been in an exploration stage for quite a while now, and I think they are exploring many options, ' he added.

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After employees petitioned this year, Google announced it would not renew a project to help the US military develop artificial intelligence technology for drones. Undersigned Googlers expect future projects to have an ethics review structure that includes rank and file employee representatives; an ombudspeople; a clear plan to enable Googlers an individual ethical choice; and an ethical assessment of Dragonfly, among other projects.

Disclosure of the secretive effort has disturbed some Google employees and human rights advocacy organizations.

Google, which has never spoken publicly about the plans, declined to comment.

"And whether we would do so or could so is all very unclear, " Pichai also said.

The first two questions from staff members at Google's Thursday meeting were about Dragonfly, the people said.

Three former employees involved with Google's past efforts in China told Reuters that current leadership might think that offering limited search results in China is better than providing no information at all.

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