1.4K Google Workers on Secret China App: 'Urgent Ethical Issues'

Employees sign letter demanding to know what they're working on amid censorship hubbub
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2018 10:10 AM CDT
1.4K Google Workers on Secret China App: 'Urgent Ethical Issues'
This July 19, 2016, file photo shows the Google logo at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

There had already been rumblings of Google employees who'd complained or defected from the company altogether to avoid having to work on a censorship-friendly search app reportedly being made for China. Now about 1,400 employees who are still there have banded together in a more cohesive way, penning a letter that sources say is making the rounds internally and pushes back on the work they've been asked to do. "Currently we do not have the information required to make ethically informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment," the Googlers say in the letter, which appears in the New York Times, adding that the fact that Google is willing to play ball with China at all on this brings up "urgent moral and ethical issues."

Some employees even suspect they may have been recruited to work on elements of the content-restricting project deemed Dragonfly without realizing what they were working on. "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 letter reads, adding that eyebrow-raising projects should get a full, published ethical analysis and that "rank and file" employees and outside reps should be involved in reviewing products for transparency. Meanwhile, per a source said to have attended an employee town hall Thursday, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company will "definitely be transparent" as they get closer to a search app in China, which he added they were "not close to launching," the Financial Times reports, via AFP. (More Google stories.)

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