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Google Staff Urge Firm to Drop China Search Plans

Hundreds of Google employees have signed an open letter to the firm urging it to drop plans to launch a censored search engine for the Chinese market, dubbed Dragonfly.

They claimed that the project would make Google complicit in human rights abuses and oppression, as the firm would be forced to hand over user data to the state as per local laws.

“Dragonfly would also enable censorship and government-directed disinformation, and destabilize the ground truth on which popular deliberation and dissent rely,” the letter continued. “Given the Chinese government’s reported suppression of dissident voices, such controls would likely be used to silence marginalized people, and favor information that promotes government interests.”

The letter also argued that launching Dragonfly in China would set a dangerous precedent, making it harder for the tech giant to deny similar concessions to other countries with dubious human rights records.

“Our opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be,” it said.

Google famously pulled its search engine from mainland China in 2010 after the infamous Operation Aurora attack on employees, saying it was no longer prepared to censor results in the country.

“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,” the letter concluded. “After a year of disappointments including Project Maven, Dragonfly, and Google’s support for abusers, we no longer believe this is the case. This is why we’re taking a stand.”

The move follows Amnesty International’s calls for Google to end development of Dragonfly and an internal Google petition which garnered over 1000 signatures at the firm criticizing the lack of transparency around the project.

The search giant is said to have removed its famous "don't be evil" motto from its code of conduct earlier this year.

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