Google employees back in protest of Project Dragonfly, a censored search engine for China

Seven people left Google to protest the company's Project Dragonfly project. The project was developed to eliminate content that the Chinese government considers sensitive. ( Robert Scoble | flickr )

After more than two years at Google, senior Google scientist Jack Poulson has left the company in turmoil over Project Dragonfly.

Poulson, who worked for the company in May 2016, said he had asserted his interest in Google's top corporations after it became known that they were distributing a censored version of their search engine in China that looked like one Wildfire spread. The search system, called Dragonfly, aimed to remove content that the Chinese government finds sensitive, including information on democracy, freedom of expression and human rights.

After a thorough discussion with his superiors, in mid-August, Poulson came to the decision that he could no longer work for Google because the Dragonfly violated the public commitment to anyone. Poulson's last day at the company was August 31st.

"I see our intention to surrender to censorship and surveillance demands in return for access to the Chinese market as a loss of our values ​​and the government's bargaining position around the world." There is an all-too-real possibility that other nations will try to use our actions in China to demand our adherence to their security requirements, "wrote Poulson in his letter of resignation

Prior to joining Google, Poulson previously served as assistant professor at Stanford University's Department of Mathematics. Unlike Poulson, BuzzFeed reports that six more people have quit Google. He cited a lack of corporate transparency as a reason.

"It's our policy not to comment on individual employees," said a Google spokesman when asked to comment on Poulson's resignation.

Google remains close-mouthed

It has been six weeks since Dragonfly was introduced to the public, but Google has not yet addressed the concerns about the project. Just this month, Google's CEO Sundar Pichai was not seen at the Senate Intelligence hearing where he'd been questioned about the matter in China.

It was reported that only a few hundred of the company's 88,000 employees knew about Dragonfly before it became public knowledge. Since then, more than 1,400 employees have written a letter of protest for Google's censorship packages.

In this context, Google launched a censored search engine in China in 2006, but it was discontinued in the country in 2010 after the Chinese government blocked websites that hijacked people's Google accounts and restricted their freedom of expression. In addition to Dragonfly, staff also learned that Google has worked closely with the Pentagon to develop an artificially intelligent technology for drone warfare in March.

Photo: Robert Scoble | flickr

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