Briefing: Google employees issue open letter demanding end to Chinese search project

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Google workers demand end to censored Chinese search project – Reuters

What happened: More than 200 Google employees, including engineers, designers, and managers, have issued an open letter to the company demanding it cease developing a filtered search engine for China. The letter raises concerns about how search data may be used to track sensitive groups. The employees said that they believed Google is no longer willing “to place values over profits.”

Why it’s important: Google has faced mounting internal criticism for its plans to relaunch its search engine in China. The company’s search app will reportedly require users to verify their identity before being able to search, and all data will be handed over to a local partner. The open letter is the latest protest against the search giant from within its ranks. In August, roughly 1,400 employees urged the company to improve oversight of ethically questionable ventures, including the Chinese search project. Most recently, John Hennessy, chairperson of Google’s parent company Alphabet, expressed his concern, saying he wasn’t sure Google’s re-entry into the Chinese search market would improve the quality of life of the country’s citizens.