About a thousand Google employees have signed a letter protesting the company’s efforts to build a censored version of its search engine in China, as reported byTheNew York Times. The letter calls for more transparency and consideration of the human rights issues involved, as internet monitoring and collaboration with the Chinese government is used to stifle dissident voices and even put activists’ personal information at risk.
The letter reads “currently we do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment,” as two anonymous sources informed theTimes.It continued, “Google employees need to know what we’re building.”
On August 3rd,The InterceptandThe Informationreported that Google is working on a censored search app and a censored news app for China, with the ultimate aim being to revive a censored version of its search engine in the country. Work on the apps reportedly began last year and has been kept secret by the company. Google declined to comment on the news. The company left China in 2010, after an attempt to run an uncensored search engine did not sit well with Beijing.
Employees have been protesting the decision to build a censored search engine by internally circulating memes that lament a lack of results when searching for the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, and by posting (since deleted) tweets decrying the move.
Google did not immediately respond to comment. The company has repeatedly ignored requests for comment, despite being responsive to commenting on other stories. Its sole statement on its situation in China is from August 3rd:“We provide a number of mobile apps in China, such as Google Translate and Files Go, help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.com. But we don’t comment on speculation about future plans.”