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Google employees push to drop censored search engine project Dragonfly

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Google employees push to drop censored search engine project Dragonfly

Google LLC employees wrote an open letter calling for the company to end development of a censored search engine for Chinese users.

"We are Google employees and we join Amnesty International in calling on Google to cancel project Dragonfly," more than 200 employees, mostly engineers and managers, said in a Nov. 27 open letter posted on Medium.

Human rights group Amnesty International has also openly expressed its opposition to the project, having filed a global petition that urges Google CEO Sundar Pichai to drop the project, which it says would blacklist search terms like "human rights" and "Tiananmen Crackdown." The organization also uploaded a spoof promotional video calling on Google employees to join Project Dragonfly.

The Google employees said they have "repeatedly" called on Google to cancel the project, but the management's response has been "unsatisfactory."

According to the group, allowing Dragonfly to launch in China "would establish a dangerous precedent at a volatile political moment, one that would make it harder for Google to deny other countries similar concessions."

Google has allegedly been working on the Dragonfly project since the spring of 2017 and accelerated work following a December 2017 meeting between CEO Pichai and a top Chinese government official.

The project also received strong criticism from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who urged Google in October to end Dragonfly. Later that month, Pichai sent a letter to six U.S. senators in response to growing concern about its plans in China, but did not disclose details on whether Google would release a search engine in China, as it "remains unclear." He also refused to answer detailed questions about the matter.

Google is owned by Alphabet Inc.