Hundreds of Google employees have called on the company to provide more transparency over plans to develop a search engine app in China that sources say would block some websites and search terms. Jayson Albano reports.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES / BEIJING, CHINA / INTERNET (Reuters) – Google is planning a return to China.
But the project is shrouded in secrecy, and employees are demanding transparency.
According to a report by The New York Times on Thursday (August 16), a petition calling for more oversight and accountability in the project racked up more than a thousand signatures.
Reuters reported this month, the app is a bid to win approval from Beijing to provide a mobile search engine in China.
However, employees are concerned the app would support China’s restrictions on free expression and ultimately violate the company’s ‘don’t be evil’ code of conduct.
The petition, seen by Reuters says, “We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we’re building.”
The company declined to comment.
Sources say the project – codenamed Dragonfly – would block certain websites and search terms.
It would also stand in stark contrast to eight years ago, when Google left China in protest of Beijing’s censorship.
Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly.
But in a transcript seen by Reuters, Google’s Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told employees “it’s all very unclear” whether Google would return to China at all.
He also said that development is still in the early stages, and that sharing information too early could quote “cause issues”.