Google employees sign petition demanding transparency in China search engine plan

​More than a thousand Google employees have signed a letter protesting the company’s secretive plan to build a search engine that would comply with Chinese censorship.

The letter calls on executives to review ethics and transparency at the company.

“Currently we do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment,” the letter states.

The letter’s contents were confirmed by a Google employee who helped organize it but who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the debate.

The letter says employees lack the information required to make ethically informed decisions about their work and complains that most employees only found out about the project, nicknamed Dragonfly, through media reports.

The letter is similar to one thousands of employees had signed in protest of Project Maven, a U.S. military contract that Google decided in June not to renew.

Google pulled its search engine from China in 2010 in a dispute over restrictions on freedom of information.

At a townhall gathering of employees on Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the firm was committed to transparency, and that while it was exploring many options, it was not close to launching a search product in China.

Pichai said Google’s stated mission is to organize the world’s information.

“China is one-fifth of the world’s population. I think if we were to do our mission well, I think we have to think seriously about how we do more in China,” he added.

“I genuinely do believe we have a positive impact when we engage around the world and I don’t see any reason why that would be different in China.” Pichai said.

“We’ll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here. We definitely do plan to engage more and talk more.”

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