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Google scientist quits over censored version of Google Search being secretly build for China

Jack Poulson felt it was his “ethical responsibility" to resign in protest of human rights being violated.

  • Published: September 17, 2018 1:44 PM IST
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A Google scientist named Jack Poulson from research and machine intelligence department has quit the company in protest over Google’s plan to launch a censored version of its Search engine in China, reported The Intercept on Thursday.

According to the report, Poulson was a senior Google research scientist working on improving the accuracy of the Google Search system. In early August, he raised concerns with his managers at Google about the censored version of Google Search Android app for China.

“The search system, code-named Dragonfly, was designed to remove content that China’s authoritarian government views as sensitive, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest,” noted report.

Poulson also said that his concern was not just about the censorship itself, but also of the consequences of hosting customer data on the Chinese mainland, where it would also be accessible to the Chinese security agencies.

After discussing his concerns for several weeks, Poulson resigned from Google and his last day at the company was August 31. In an interview with The Intercept, Poulson said that it was his “ethical responsibility to resign in protest of the forfeiture of our public human rights commitments.”

Google had launched a censored search engine in China in 2006, but it later stopped operations in China in 2010. The company had then cited Chinese government censorship of limiting free speech, blocking websites, and more for halting the operations in China.

Reportedly, only a few Google employees knew about the Dragonfly project internally before the news hit media with leaked documents. After that, there were protests inside Google as more than 1,400 employees reportedly signed a letter demanding investigation in the matter.

The letter was reportedly condemned the secrecy surrounding Dragonfly and it stated: “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.”

So far, Google has not responded to any of the media reports about Dragonfly.

  • Published Date: September 17, 2018 1:44 PM IST