What happened: Google employees have demanded more “transparency, oversight and accountability” after the revelation of the company’s secretive plans to launch a search engine for the Chinese market. Employees have requested an ethics review group that would provide independent assessments of projects that raise ethical questions. Google CEO Sundar Pinchai has responded by saying the company is not close to launching a search engine in China and that sharing information too early on certain projects can “cause issues.”
Why it’s important: Pinchai’s words ring hollow knowing that the search engine already has a functioning version, according to earlier reports from The Intercept. Reports also show that the project is being carried out as part of a “joint venture” with a company that’s likely based in China. Speculations have already started on whether that company may be Tencent. Although not all object to Google’s China plans, hundreds of its employees want more transparency. Google workers already proved their power after objecting to a deal with the US military: Google discontinued a project that helps the US military use AI for drone footage analysis.