Google employees question company plans for Chinese search engine

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What happened: Google employees have demanded more "transparency, oversight and accountability" after the revelation of the company's secretive plans to launch a search engine for the Chinese market.

Company executives have not commented publicly on the China project, code named Dragonfly.

The letter's contents were confirmed by a Google employee who helped organise it but who requested anonymity.

Hundreds of Google employees have submitted a letter to its management demanding "more transparency and a commitment to clear and open processes" among other things with respect to Google's Dragonfly project.

When Google pulled out of China in 2010, Sergey Brin, the company's co-founder, said it objected to the country's "totalitarian" policies when it came to censorship, political speech and internet communications. The person who shared information to the Times, presumably someone involved with the movement inside Google, not only handed Pichai and Brin an excuse to stop discussing anything substantive about China at the meeting, but the executives were also made to look victimized by a breach of trust. They asked not to be identified talking about private matters. "And whether we would do so or could so is all very unclear, " Pichai also said.

Google is planning a return to China.

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The discussions became tense when Google's leaders discovered that someone attending the meeting or listening in remotely was supplying live information to Conger, the New York Times reporter.

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.

The new project is said to be codenamed "Dragonfly".

China has hundreds of millions of internet users and a thriving online shopping market, making it impossible for USA tech companies to ignore.

More than 1,000 Google employees signed an internal petition that said the Dragonfly project raised "urgent moral and ethical issues", according to a copy viewed by Bloomberg News. The document referred to the situation as a "code yellow", a process used in engineering to address critical problems that impact several teams.

A Google spokesman did not immediately respond to questions. "We definitely do plan to engage more and talk more". On the one side, its employees have the directive "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful", which is why some say it's important to be present in China, no matter what that takes.