Employees joined Amnesty International in protests calling for Google to drop their project to create a special version of its search engine to filter out content deemed undesirable by the China’s government. The “Three T’s” of politically controversial content related to the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, autonomy of Tibet and the status of Taiwan are off limits on China’s domestic websites. More recently, suppression of Uighur minorities in China’s northwest has come under criticism from western journalists.
Employees point to Google’s “Don’t do evil” corporate value and say the California tech company should walk away from China. Also at the core of concerns is how data about user searches would be collected by Google and transmitted to government agencies, essentially performing what employees called “state surveillance”. In the protest letter to CEO Sundar Pichai, the employees write, “Our opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be.
The Chinese government certainly isn’t alone in its readiness to stifle freedom of expression, and to use surveillance to repress dissent. 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.” For now, there’s Baidu.
This story is featured in the 30 November 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.