Rumors of the Chinese-based search engine have circulated over the past few weeks after The Intercept reported that it had seen leaked documents, suggesting the Sundar Pichai-led Google was planning to re-enter China, almost 8 years after leaving the country.
On Thursday, in a meeting with employees, Google's leadership addressed reports from earlier this month that the company had built a censored search engine in order to once again operate in China, according to Twitter posts from multiple reporters. Google's employees said they need more information to determine whether it raises "urgent moral and ethical issues".
Search terms about human rights, democracy, religion and peaceful protests will be among the words blacklisted in the search engine app, which The Intercept said had already been demonstrated to the Chinese government.
Are Google's employees (well, some of them) right to push back in this way?
Pichai told employees: "We'll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here" on Dragonfly, according to the transcript.
You can read the full letter below.
Googlers say that this would be a violation of the company's "don't be evil" mantra and are demanding more input into any decision about the company's future plans in the country, to allow them to do their jobs. Google has so far refused to comment on the matter.
Google originally exited China in in 2010 after the company discovered an attack on its corporate infrastructure by Chinese hackers.
According to three sources in attendance who spoke with Business Insider, the man was addressing an unknown person within Google who was relaying what was said at the gathering in real time to a New York Times reporter. The discussion at the all-hands meeting was the first time Google executives addressed the company's plans for a possible return to China. "Google employees need to know what we're building".
"Currently we do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about our work". Just earlier this year, it was reported that employees protested against Google's collaboration with the Pentagon to improve military tech.
Some Google employees would like to hear Brin and cofounder Larry Page explain, but management has said nothing.
"It's quite ridiculous that in the 21st century one of the most powerful countries in the world denies its citizens access to common knowledge", one user wrote.
Over 1,400 Google employees have signed the letter, and counting.