An open letter condemning Google’s ‘Project Dragonfly’, has garnered the support of human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders. Written by staff at Google, 407 of its workforce have already signed the petition, which has called upon the internet giant to end plans to provide a censored search engine for China.
To comply with strict laws, a search application would be designed with the Chinese government to filter out censored content from results. In 2010, Google shut down its search engine after it would not capitulate to Beijing’s censorship demands. However, last month Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said it was “important to explore the options for China,” and would be able to serve over 99 percent of the search queries.
The signatures believe such a search engine would enable “state surveillance” and make it easy for the government to monitor user’s searches. It also would deny users to access politically sensitive information like the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. The letter says it would “make Google complicit in oppression and human rights abuses” and believes it is at odds with the company’s values, whose motto ‘don’t be evil’ is used within their code of conduct.
Amnesty International is calling upon other members of Google’s 88,000 workforce to sign the petition.
“This is a watershed moment for Google. As the world’s number one search engine, it should be fighting for an internet where information is freely accessible to everyone, not backing the Chinese government’s dystopian alternative,” said Joe Westby, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Technology and Human Rights.
Google said there were no plans to launch a search engine in China, and it was merely at exploratory stages.