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Google Employees Resign In Protest Of Project Dragonfly, A Censored Search Engine For China

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Seven employees abandoned their jobs at Google in protest of the company's project known as "Project Dragonfly." The project was crafted to eradicate content that China's government views as sensitive.  ( Robert Scoble | Flickr )

After more than two years of working in Google, Senior Google scientist Jack Poulson has quit the company in revolt against Project Dragonfly.

Poulson, who began working for the company in May 2016, revealed that he lifted his interests to the higher-ups at Google after news of them covertly working on a censored version of its search engine in China spread like wildfire. Dubbed Dragonfly, the search system was aimed toward cutting off content that China's government believes as sensitive, including information about democracy, free speech, and human rights.

After a thorough discussion with his bosses, Poulson came to a decision in mid-August that he could no longer continue working for Google, citing that the Dragonfly was a forfeiture of everyone's public human rights commitment. Poulson's final day at the company was Aug. 31. 

"I view our intent to capitulate to censorship and surveillance demands in exchange for access to the Chinese market as a forfeiture of our values and governmental negotiating position across the globe. There is an all-too-real possibility that other nations will attempt to leverage our actions in China in order to demand our compliance with their security demands," Poulson wrote on his resignation letter

Before working for Google, Poulson previously served as an assistant professor at the department of mathematics in Stanford University. Other than Poulson, BuzzFeed reports that six other employees quit their jobs at Google, mentioning a lack of corporate transparency as a reason. 

"It is our policy to not comment on individual employees," a Google spokesperson said when asked for a comment about Poulson's resignation.

Google Remains Close-Mouthed

It has been six weeks since Dragonfly has been revealed to the public, but Google has yet to address concerns about the project. Just this month, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, was a no-show at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, where he would have been questioned about the China matter. 

Reports say that only a few hundred of the company's 88,000 employees had knowledge about Dragonfly before it was openly revealed. Since then, more than 1,400 employees have inked a letter in protest for Google's censorship plans.

On a related note, Google also launched a censored search engine in China in 2006, but ceased operating in the country in 2010 after the Chinese government blocked websites, hacked people's Gmail accounts, and limited free speech. Other than Dragonfly, employees also grasped that Google was working closely with the Pentagon to create an artificially intelligent technology for drone warfare in March.

Photo: Robert Scoble | Flickr

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