Google’s China plan spurs inquiry from U.S. lawmakers, staff departures–Reuters

What happened: Yesterday, a bipartisan group of 16 US lawmakers addressed a letter to Google questioning the company over its reported plans to re-launch its search engine in mainland China. 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.” The letter follows similar concerns expressed by human rights groups, 6 US senators and over a thousand of Google’s own employees. In response to the issue, Google has stated that a search engine for mainland China “is not close to launching,” and that any work on such plans are still “exploratory.”

Why it’s important: Last month’s announcement that Google might re-launch a censored version of its search engine in China has made waves around the Western tech world. Critics say that in considering such a move, Google is compromising its own motto: “don’t be evil.” The latest letter from lawmakers continues to put heat on the internet giant, and demonstrates concern over Google’s plans in the US that crosses party lines. It also comes ahead of Google’s appearance at a September 26 US Senate panel, where it will face questioning over privacy issues.

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

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