An open letter to Google is published to drop the Dragonfly project, an effort to create a censored search engine in China. This letter has been signed by more than 100 google employees, in which only eleven Google employees signed at time of letter posting, and numbers are rapidly increasing.
This letter is published by Medium on Tuesday "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, After a year of disappointments including Project Maven, Dragonfly, and Google's support for abusers, we no longer believe this is the case.
We are Google employees and we join Amnesty International in calling on Google to cancel project Dragonfly, Google’s effort to create a censored search engine for the Chinese market that enables state surveillance. Read more:https://t.co/NiLllG3yDA— Googlers Against Dragonfly (@DropDragonfly) November 27, 2018
The search engine Dragonfly, is designed to hide search results that China’s government wants to suppress, such as information about democracy, free speech, peaceful protest, and human rights, according to an investigation published in August by the Intercept. Google’s new search engine would also track a user’s location and would share an individual’s search history with a Chinese partner, who would have “unilateral access” to the data. This includes access to a user’s telephone number
We heard you’re hoping to help the Chinese government spy on their citizens online @SundarPichai? We also heard you’ve lost a few Googlers over it; so here’s a complimentary Project Dragonfly job ad for you to fill those inevitable empty spaces.— Amnesty International (@amnesty) November 27, 2018
You’re welcome. pic.twitter.com/L2d1q25tw0
Sup @Google in Hong Kong. @sundarpichai, time to #DropDragonfly? pic.twitter.com/xpYWWNCw4g— Amnesty International (@amnesty) November 27, 2018
This is not the first time that any company try to make product like dragonfly, as China has the largest number of internet users in the world, with population at 1.3 billion. so breaking into the Chinese market has been a long-time goal for Silicon Valley tech giants in their quest to find new users and to grow profits. But working in China inevitably raises issues for any US company. Doing business in mainland China means making deals with an authoritarian government that has a record of human rights abuses.
In 2016, Facebook was also building a censorship tool similar to Google’s Dragonfly project which would allow a third-party to block certain Facebook posts in China in exchange for the government’s permission to operate the social media network there.
Vox - A backlash similar to the Dragonfly controversy ensued, raising concerns about the potential for government officials to use the platform to spy on dissidents and punish them. These concerns led several Facebook employees who worked on the project to resign. That project was in its early stages, too, and there’s no evidence that Facebook ever presented the tool to Chinese officials.
Human rights group Amnesty International also launched a public petition on Tuesday calling on Google to cancel Dragonfly. The organization said it would encourage Google workers to sign the petition by targeting them on LinkedIn and protesting outside Google offices.