Google employees wrote an open letter to call for the company to cancel Project Dragonfly, saying they object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, according to CNBC’s report.
In an open letter published on Medium, Google employees said their opposition is not about China but the Chinese government “certainly isn’t alone in its readiness to stifle freedom of expression, and to use surveillance to repress dissent.”
They are afraid of a situation that “Dragonfly in China would establish a dangerous precedent at a volatile political moment, one that would make it harder for Google to deny other countries similar concessions.”
Project Dragonfly has drawn criticism from human rights groups and politicians in the US as The Intercept first reported details this summer. In August, thousands of Google employees signed a letter, saying that the a censored version of its search engine raised “urgent moral and ethical issues.”
CNBC reported that Google is “very early” in its plans in October. The censored version could still “serve well over 99%” of search queries in China. Meanwhile, Alphabet Chairman John Hennessy said doing business in China requires compromising “core values.”
Google withdrawn its service in China in 2010 due to cyber attacks and privacy infringement. Dozens of human rights activists’ Gmail accounts connected with China were being routinely accessed by third parties, most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on their computers.
CNBC’s report said Google’s Chinese search app would have reportedly complied with demands to remove sensitive content and linked users’ searches to their personal phone numbers.
Employees of Google said they no longer believe the company places values over profits, after a year of disappointments including Project Maven, Dragonfly, and Google’s support for abusers.
At the end of the open letter, the employees demand that leadership commit to transparency, clear communication, and real accountability.