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Google's plan to launch a censored search engine in China requires more "transparency, oversight and accountability", hundreds of the USA tech giant's employees said in an internal petition, Reuters reports.

Google CEO Sundar Pinchai has attempted to tamp out the fires of dissent in his company after employees scheduled a protest against an alleged project that would see Google develop a censored search engine for use in the Chinese market.

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 1,000 signatures.

Employee anger flared with a report this month in The Intercept that Google is secretly building a search engine that will filter content banned in China and thus meet Beijing's tough censorship rules.

However, the report states that in a weekly meeting the employees pressed Google CEO Sundar Pichai and other top guns about the same.

Are Google's employees (well, some of them) right to push back in this way? Nicknamed 'Dragonfly, ' the project is a 180-degree turn from Google's past experience in China.

The latest petition says employees are concerned the China project, codenamed Dragonfly, "makes clear" that ethics principles Google issued during the drone debate "are not enough".

Google declined to confirm the authenticity of the letter or comment on the town hall meeting.

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Prior to 2010, the company had operated a Chinese language version of its search engine.

"F-k you", said the male Google employee standing at the microphone during a pivotal moment at the company all-hands meeting on Thursday night.

Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly. The alleged product will block social media services already banned in China including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, websites about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, global media such as the BBC and New York Times, Wall Street Journal, references to "anticommunism" and "dissidents", mentions of books that negatively portray authoritarian governments, like George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm.

As expected, Google's own employees aren't happy with the company's decision.

Greg Sandoval/Business InsiderTyler Breisacher quit his software development job at Google as part of a protest against the company's work building AI tools for the military.

"Currently we do not have the information required to make ethically informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment", the letter read.

"It's quite ridiculous that in the 21st century one of the most powerful countries in the world denies its citizens access to common knowledge", one user wrote. A clear plan for transparency sufficient to enable Googlers an individual ethical choice about what they work on; and 4. the publication of "ethical test cases"; an ethical assessment of Dragonfly, Maven, and Airgap GCP with respect to the AI Principles; and regular, official internally visible communications and assessments regarding any new areas of substantial ethical concern.

Google still has offices there, though.


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