Google China plan prompts inquiry from US lawmakers

Doris Richards
September 15, 2018

Furthermore, Poulson believes that he is one of the five employees who has resigned from the company over project Dragonfly.

Poulson told The Intercept that he was of the opinion that the censored search engine plan went against the principles governing Google's artificial intelligence project, which said the company would not use technologies "whose objective contravenes widely accepted principles of global law and human rights".

"It is our policy to not comment on individual employees", a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "If it was true, I was pretty sure immediately I couldn't continue working there", he told BuzzFeed News. In the letter, the lawmakers said they had "serious concerns" over possible concessions to local internet regulations, and asked whether Google could ensure that Chinese citizens and resident foreigners alike "will not be surveilled or targeted through Google applications". Poulson claims that it was his "ethical responsibility to resign" and that his resignation was a "protest of the forfeiture of our public human rights commitments". A central concern expressed by the groups is that, beyond the censorship, user data stored by Google on the Chinese mainland could be accessible to Chinese authorities, who routinely target political activists and journalists.

While Google employees push back against and lawmakers ask questions about a rumored version of its search engine for China - with censorship and blacklists for terms like human rights, democracy or protest built-in - The Intercept revealed more details about how it might actually work. It has also refused to engage with human rights groups regarding Dragonfly, ignored reporters' questions, and rebuffed USA senators.

Jack Poulson, a senior Google research scientist, has put his money where his mouth is.


After the meeting with Huning, Google chose to open an artificial intelligence research centre in Beijing.

The appointment of ombudspeople with meaningful employee input into their selection.

Google, which quit China's search engine market in 2010, has been actively seeking ways to re-enter China where many of its products are blocked by regulators.

The search engine would remove items that contain certain words or phrases and would apply to image search, suggested search features and automatic spell check. According to The Intercept, examples that will be censored include British broadcaster BBC and Wikipedia. In 2006, Google had developed a censored version of the search engine. "He wrote on Twitter that Google had worked with China and Russian Federation on censorship but no longer wanted to do a technology deal with the U.S. Defense Department".

Google responded by issuing a set of principles that Pichai said would guide the company's use of AI.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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