Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Mountain View, CA, United States (4E) – Protests by Google employees against the company’s development of a censored search engine for China are escalating.
In an open letter to management, more than 200 engineers, designers and managers at Alphabet Inc (Google’ parent firm) demanded the company immediately end development of a censored search engine for the Chinese government, which is being developed under the codename Project Dragonfly.
The letter voiced concern about the Chinese government tracking-down dissidents through search data and suppressing truth through content restrictions.
“We object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be,” said the employees in the letter.
Google has sought to deflect mounting criticism of Dragonfly by calling it an experiment not close to launching. Current and former employees, human rights activists and U.S. lawmakers, however, continue to slam Alphabet for not taking a harder line against the Chinese government’s demand the Dragonfly search engine automatically block content they don’t like.
Human rights group Amnesty International demanded Google cancel Dragonfly. It’s encouraging Alphabet and Google employees to sign a petition by targeting them on LinkedIn and protesting outside Google offices.
Once banned by China, Google is trying to make a comeback by currying favor with China’s communist dictators. The lure of China is irresistible — the country is the world’s largest internet market.
A Chinese government official said there is “no indication” from Google it has adjusted earlier plans to eventually launch dragonfly. He said the rumored 2019 release date for Dragonfly is “unrealistic.”
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