Google employees urge the company to drop China’s Project Dragonfly in open letter

Google / Tech

The Chinese market is massive and a well-placed search engine there could mean major profits for Google.

Google employees are making a stand again, this time against the company’s planned Chinese search engine named Project Dragonfly. Google employees already staged a mass worldwide walkout over the way the company handled sexual harassers in the workplace. Now, some of those Google employees are attempting to sway the same profit generating machine to stay out of China.

The Chinese market is massive and a well-placed search engine there could mean major profits for Google. The only problem is the stranglehold the Chinese government has on the freedoms of its people. Launching a search engine in China means having to conform to certain Chinese governmental laws. That is something Google is working on and that’s where Project Dragonfly comes in. The problem Google employees have with Project Dragonfly is that it severely censors search results removing anything and everything the government does not want people to see.

Our opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be. The Chinese government certainly isn’t alone in its readiness to stifle freedom of expression, and to use surveillance to repress dissent. Dragonfly in China would establish a dangerous precedent at a volatile political moment, one that would make it harder for Google to deny other countries similar concessions.

Our company’s decision comes as the Chinese government is openly expanding its surveillance powers and tools of population control. Many of these rely on advanced technologies, and combine online activity, personal records, and mass monitoring to track and profile citizens. Reports are already showing who bears the cost, including Uyghurs, women’s rights advocates, and students. Providing the Chinese government with ready access to user data, as required by Chinese law, would make Google complicit in oppression and human rights abuses.

Dragonfly would also enable censorship and government-directed disinformation, and destabilize the ground truth on which popular deliberation and dissent rely. Given the Chinese government’s reported suppression of dissident voices, such controls would likely be used to silence marginalized people, and favor information that promotes government interests.

The open letter posted on Medium continues on citing their love of the company because of its values. It ends with a long list of signatures of Google employees with more being added daily. It will be interesting to see if Google responds to this letter and if they continue with Project Dragonfly.

What do you think of Project Dragonfly and of this open letter to Google? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

  Source: Medium
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