Hundreds of Google employees publicly demanded on Tuesday that the Internet giant would abandon a search engine project in China, respecting Beijing's censorship rules on its users.
The project is known as "Dragonfly". Google CEO Sundar Pichai acknowledged the existence in October and justified this by the fact that it was better to offer a powerful search engine, but with restrictions than to leave the Chinese with less good tools.
"Our opposition to Dragonfly has nothing to do with China: we are against technologies that help the powerful to oppress the most vulnerable, anywhere," says a letter signed by 90 employees who call their colleagues. to join them.
"The dragonfly in China would set a dangerous precedent in a time of political uncertainty, a precedent that would prevent Google from denying similar concessions to other countries," the letter continues.
Several organizations also denounce the bill, including Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International, which have launched an online petition demanding their abandonment.
"This is a turning point for Google," said Joe Westby, an Amnesty International human rights and technology researcher, in an article posted on the organization's website on Tuesday.
"As the world's leading search engine, it should be struggling for an internet where information is freely accessible to all, rather than supporting the obscure alternative of the Chinese government."
Speaking at a conference last month in San Francisco, Sundar Pichai said Google should "think very seriously" about the Chinese market despite criticism of the company's potential complicity with state censorship. China.
"We always take a set of values into account," he explained. "We must also follow the law that applies in each country."
"It turns out that we could respond to more than 99% of the searches … There are many cases where we provide better information than is currently available," he added.
Google closed its search engine in China in 2010, after denying Beijing's request to censor some search results.
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the New York Times website are blocked in China, where Microsoft's search engine, Bing, on the other hand, is operational.
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