It was reported a couple of months ago that Google is working on a new search engine for China which would comply with local censorship laws and regulations. The project was reportedly codenamed Dragonfly. Google did confirm its existence in a recent Senate hearing but didn’t go into its details. Google’s employees are now calling on the company to cancel its censored search engine for China.
“We are Google employees who are joining with Amnesty International in calling on Google to cancel Project Dragonfly and guarantee protections for whistleblowers,” the employees said in a letter posted online today. They also want protection for the employees who make details of this secret internal project public.
Many employees came to know of it when the first report about Dragonfly was published in August. It didn’t help that this came up only a couple of months after Google’s Project Maven contract with the Pentagon. More than 4,000 employees put their name on a petition calling on Google to cancel the project. A dozen engineers resigned and Google later promised that it would not renew that contract.
The employees clarify in their letter that their opposition to Dragonfly is not about China. “We object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be,” they say. The letter points out that Dragonfly would establish a precedent which would make it difficult for Google to deny similar concessions to other countries.
11 employees have signed their name to this letter as of this morning. They will continue to update it as more signatures are placed. Google hasn’t commented on the matter as yet.