Hundreds of Google employees have signed a protest letter over the company’s reported work on a censor-friendly search engine to get back into China, The New York Times reported.
The employees are demanding more transparency so that they can understand the moral implication of their work, said the Times, which obtained a copy of the letter.
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The letter has been signed by 1,400 employees and is circulating on the company’s internal communication system, the newspaper said, quoting three people who are familiar with the document.
The letter argues that the search engine project and Google’s apparent willingness to accept China’s censorship requirements “raise urgent moral and ethical issues.
“Currently we do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects and our employment,” they say in the letter.
Employees’ anger flared with a report early this month in The Intercept that Google was secretly building a search engine that would filter content banned in China and thus meet Beijing’s tough censorship rules.
Google withdrew its search engine from China eight years ago due to censorship and hacking.
The tech giant had already come under fire this year from thousands of employees who signed a petition against a $10m contract with the US military, which was not renewed.
With the secret project, Google employees are reportedly worried that they might unknowingly be working on technology that could help China hide information from its people.
“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.
At a town hall gathering of employees on Thursday, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, said the firm was committed to transparency and that while it was “exploring many options”, it was “not close to launching a search product in China.”
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