Google employees question company plans for Chinese search engine

Google employees question company plans for Chinese search engine

Google employees question company plans for Chinese search engine

"And whether we would do so or could so is all very unclear, " Pichai also said.

China has the world's largest internet audience but USA tech firms have struggled to take off in China due to content restrictions and blockages.

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.

Google pulled out of China in 2010 over objections to government demands that it filter out websites and information that China's leaders found objectionable.

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

'We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we're building, ' states the document seen by Reuters. Throughout the Dragonfly ordeal and Google's past problems with Pentagon contracts, employees have consistently relied on the media, both social and traditional, to disseminate their worries and requests.

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Earlier this year, Google employees staged a similar protest when it was announced the company was working with the US Department of Defense to develop artificial intelligence capabilities for drones.

Google services, including its search engine, Gmail and Google Drive, are all blocked in China. In 2016, the company began developing a new search engine - code-named Dragonfly - to be more compliant with Chinese government restrictions.

"I think the team are exploring many options", Sundar Pichai said of the project. It's also not sure that Dragonfly will ever become a reality, and the recent incidents have made Google's path even bumpier. Google now has more than 700 employees in China.

We reached out to Google but had not heard back at time of writing. The government would have to approve its return and it has kept US technology firms like Facebook at arm's length, opting instead to work closely with homegrown internet behemoths.

Google now has no presence in China after it removed itself in 2010 over censorship concerns. If anything, China has only tightened its controls in the last eight years - leaving the company in a bind for how to justify its return.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees at a recent meeting that the company was not close to launching a search product in China, CNBC reported. The app is said to comply with Chinese government censorship guidelines.

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