Google Employees Revolt Against Censored Search-Engine Spartacus

A Google sign is seen during the China International Import Expo (CIIE), at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai
A Google sign is seen during the China International Import Expo (CIIE), at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, China November 5, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Aly Song)

Google employees are revolting against Google's secretive plan to operate a censored search engine in China. The search engine giant's DragonFly project created internal dissent as it is planned to censor search results and it can trace back individual users as they request a search.

Reports are circulating that a Google employee started a public strike fund campaign that will support those who are against the plan. Earlier this week, open letter started circulating which was initially started by 10 employees. The number of signatories of the letter increased significantly currently to 649 employees.

The letter opened with a statement that the Google employees are joining the Amnesty International in calling on Google to cancel the DragonFly project that is claimed to enable censorship and state surveillance over their users. The employees said that the leadership's response to their claim is unsatisfactory. The letter noted that thousands of its employees are raising their concern about the plan.

Reports claim that Scott Beaumont, Google's head of operations in China tried to bypass the standard security and privacy reviews for the project and he insisted that the plan must be kept secret. The employees under the project were said to be threatened with termination as soon as they reveal the existence of the project publicly.

Beaumont's decision is contrary to Sergey Brin's position to the Chinese government's alleged interference by the Chinese government. Brin is Google's co-founder and he pulled out the search engine in China in 2010.

The search-engine giant released a statement that the plan is an exploratory project and they are not yet certain whether they will launch it. They said that they consulted many privacy and security engineers as they explore the possibility.

Google said that for any product, the final launch is contingent on a full, final privacy review but they've never gotten to that point in development. They added that privacy reviews at the company are non-negotiable and they never short-circuit the process.

Employees are also questioning the integrity of their CEO, Sundar Pichai since he is claimed to be a supporter of the project and he is said to be one of the proponents of the plan. CEO Pichai said in a conference that they are not yet sure whether they will launch the search-engine in China but he said that they felt that it was important for them to explore. However, employees working on the project claim that they are pressured to finish the project for roll out in 2019.

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