Seven Google employees have allegedly terminated their jobs due to lack of responsibility and transparency by the search giant over its controversial search engine collection in China, the code name Project Dragonfly.
The departures, first reported by BuzzFeed News, have not all been publicly identified. However, it largely consists of software engineers with varying experience, BuzzFeed reported, quoting three sources familiar with the case. One of the names that are said to be on the list is Google senior researcher Jack Poulson, allegedly first learned by Project Dragonfly after The Intercept first reported the story in August.
"It's our policy not to comment on some employees" a Google spokesman told Fox News.
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Talked to BuzzFeed, Poulson said he was "shocked" by the news. "If it were true, I was pretty sure I could not continue working there, he said to the news release.
Last month, Google was pushed by a consortium of human rights groups to leave the search engine, which would be app based and censored on behalf of the Chinese government. When Poulson saw that the company did not pay any attention to the human rights organization's concerns, he decided to become public with his concerns.
"I am offended that no emphasis has been given to the human rights community that has a consensus, "he added in the Buzzfeed interview." If you have a coalition letter from 14 human rights organizations and can not even do that in the discussions about the ethics of a decision, I'd rather agree with the human rights organizations in this conflict. " News about the alleged departures will come just days after the chief researcher of Google's cloud computing device Fei-Fei L You quit the company over dustups related to Project Maven, the company's controversial Pentagon AI program, according to the New York Post.
In June, Fox News reported that Google was set to end the program after it expired in 2019.
Human Rights Consideration
In August, more than a dozen human rights groups sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and asked him to Explain what Google does to protect users against the Chinese government's censorship and monitoring.
It describes the company's secret plan to build a search engine that will adhere to Chinese censorship as representing "a worrying surrender of Google on human rights."
"The Chinese government largely opposes the rights of freedom of expression and privacy; By responding to the Chinese authorities' oppression of disagreement, Google actively participates in these violations of millions of Internet users in China, said the letter.
In a statement to Fox News at the time of the letter, Google said it has "invested for many years to help Chinese users, from developing Android, through mobile apps like Google Translate and Files Go, and our developer tools. But our search has been exploring, and we are not close to launching a search product in China. "
The letter was signed by groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders.
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Google Employee Displeasure
The letter from the human rights groups came only a few weeks after about 1,000 of Google's own employees asked Pichai and senior leadership to explain what it was about the search project.
The letter, obtained by BuzzFeed News, stated that Mountain View, Calif. based search giant needs to have greater transparency about how it works and transfers it to its employees. "Our industry has entered a new era of ethical responsibility: the choices we make on a global scale, the letter, which specifically refers to it Chinese search engine project, the code name Dragonfly.  GOOGLE REPORTS PRESS YOU IF YOU LIKE IT OR NOT
The letter, which was signed by approx. 1,000 people in the company, according to The New York Times, also request management to satisfy four issues related to ethics and openness:
1. An ethics review structure that includes rank and file employee representatives
2. Appointment of Ombudspersons with meaningful employee entry in their choice
3. A clear plan of openness that is sufficient to give Googlers an individual ethical choice about what they are working on; and
4. Publication of "ethical test cases"; An ethical assessment of Dragonfly, Maven and Airgap GCP with respect to the AI principles; and regular, official, internally visible communication and assessments of new areas with significant ethical concern.
After the letter was published, Google held an internal meeting with its employees, where Pichai stated that the company was not "close" to launch a search product and it was "very unclear" if it would or could, according to CNBC.
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Google's rocky history in China
] Rumors about the Chinese-based search engine have circulated in the last few weeks after The Intercept reported that it had seen leaked documents, suggesting that Sundar Pichai-led Google plans to enter China almost 8 years after leaving the country.
The search engine, which will be app based, removes items that contain specific words or phrases, and will apply to image search, suggested search features, and automatic spell checking. It will also "blacklist sensitive questions", so no results appear when a person looks for a particular word or phrase, The Intercept added.
The app will also identify topics and sites blocked by China's Great Firewall, according to documents. According to The Intercept, examples that will be censored include UK broadcasters BBC and Wikipedia.
Google announced in 2010 that it left China, and specifically mentioned China's censorship tactics as a reason for withdrawing from the country.
However, Pichai has said he wants Google to be in China serving its Internet users. Pichai became Google's CEO in 2015, taking over from co-founder Larry Page, who became CEO of Alphabet, the holding company that owns Google.
Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia