Google’s Chinese-catered search engine might be going “very well” behind the scenes, but that doesn’t mean staff are happy with the direction of the company. Instead, various employees have recently banded together to pen an open letter, pleading with Google to drop development entirely.
Project Dragonfly, as Sundar Pichai dubbed the effort, has garnered criticism from humanitarian groups since its announcement, with many suggesting that it infringes on various human rights. Many of Google’s workers have already voiced their aversion; however the most recent development sees 36 members signing an open letter against their employer’s “unethical” efforts.
Concern specifically surrounds China “openly expanding its surveillance powers and tools of population control”, which could see the county use the ability to blacklist and manipulate information for propaganda. Not only does Dragonfly “enable censorship”, Chinese law requires “ready access to user data” including tracking and profiling of citizens. Signees allege that this makes Google “complicit in oppression and human rights abuses.”
“Many of us accepted employment at Google with the company’s values in mind, including its previous position on Chinese censorship and surveillance, and an understanding that Google was a company willing to place its values above its profits,” continues the letter.
“After a year of disappointments including Project Maven, Dragonfly, and Google’s support for abusers, we no longer believe this is the case. This is why we’re taking a stand. We refuse to build technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be.”
Protests continue to be held outside Google’s offices, but the firm has yet to publicly address concerns and shows no public signs of slowing down.
KitGuru Says: We should never underestimate the power of the voice, as Ubisoft recently reversed its decision to standardise an authoritarian-imposed law into the Western world after hearing concerns. For now, though, it seems like Google is pressing on into the uncharted territory with scary implications.