A Google software engineer revealed concerning details about the company’s efforts to please the government China before it launched its latest entry into the country — the censored Chinese search app “Project Dragonfly” — which allegedly included the company blacklisting Chinese dissidents from its buildings for fear of upsetting the Chinese government.
In a series of Twitter posts, Thursday, Google software engineer Mike Wacker discussed Project Dragonfly — Google’s controversial censored Chinese search app — and claimed Google refused to allow Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei on the company’s New York City campus for fear of upsetting the Chinese government.
“A story relevant to Project Dragonfly, the censored search engine Google is building for China: back in September 2016, Talks at Google snubbed [Ai Weiwei], an artist and activist who has criticized the Chinese government’s stance on democracy and human rights,” declared Wacker. “The decision to not host [Weiwei] at Google’s NYC campus back then was related to Google’s (unsuccessful) attempts to launch Google Play in China. As one could imagine, hosting a political dissident such as [Weiwei] would probably upset the Communist Party of China.”
“This decision set a disturbing precedent for two reasons. First, it is one thing to play by China’s rules on Chinese soil (where China recently demolished [Weiwei]’s Beijing studio). It is a whole nother thing to play by China’s rules on *American* soil,” he continued. “Second, I later learned that [Weiwei] would only have been coming in his capacity as an artist, not as an activist. Not that that there was anything wrong with his activism, but it was stunning that Talks at Google would not host him in *any* capacity because of that activism.”
“As for how I discovered this story, in an interesting plot twist, I only learned about it when Talks at Google also snubbed [Jordan Peterson]. In May 2018, Talks at Google had rejected my pitch to invite him to speak on his new book ’12 Rules for Life’. In a follow-up conversation with someone from Talks at Google, he tried to assuage my disappointment by listing other proposals that they had snubbed, and it was in that context he mentioned [Weiwei] and Google Play,” Wacker explained. “A few hours later, I realized what I had just stumbled upon. If Google didn’t have the moral courage back then to let a Chinese political dissident speak on American soil for the sake of launching Google Play in China, then one can only imagine what sort of moral compromises they will make—and have made—for Project Dragonfly.”
Wacker, who also identified himself as the owner of an internal Republican mailing list at Google, then claimed that “bipartisan opposition exists internally” against Project Dragonfly, and added, “For those worried about censorship of conservatives by the tech industry, I have emphasized this message internally: imagine the worst case scenario there, and know that Project Dragonfly would be at least 10x worse than that.”
“There has been a lot of great press coverage on the disturbing persecution of Uighur Muslims by the Chinese government, and I would add that the Chinese government’s disturbing persecutions extend to Christians as well,” he concluded. “I’m left wondering if people who speak the truth as to what is happening in China, such as [Weiwei] or [Dr. Michael L. Brown], will no longer be welcome to speak at Google…”
730 Google employees have currently signed an open letter calling on the company to end development of Project Dragonfly.
“Many of us accepted employment at Google with the company’s values in mind, including its previous position on Chinese censorship and surveillance, and an understanding that Google was a company willing to place its values above its profits,” the letter proclaimed. “After a year of disappointments including Project Maven, Dragonfly, and Google’s support for abusers, we no longer believe this is the case. This is why we’re taking a stand.”
“We join with Amnesty International in demanding that Google cancel Dragonfly. We also demand that leadership commit to transparency, clear communication, and real accountability,” the employees expressed. “Google is too powerful not to be held accountable. We deserve to know what we’re building and we deserve a say in these significant decisions.”
When Breitbart Tech reported on the open letter last week, just over 300 employees had signed it.
Project Dragonfly has also faced opposition from human rights organization Amnesty International, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Vice President Mike Pence, who claimed the project would “strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers,” and called on Google to end development immediately.
In September, a former Google research scientist called the company “unethical,” and claimed oversight of Google was “urgently needed.”