Ex-Google Researcher Who Quit Over Dragonfly Publicly Takes Execs To Task

Jack Poulson, a former Google research scientist, has publicly called out executives at his previous place of employment after resigning in protest over the company’s plans to build a censored Chinese search engine.

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The project, known internally as Dragonfly, has sparked outrage from human rights advocates who argue that it would put dissidents at risk and represent a fundamental compromise of Google’s values.  

In a detailed examination of what led up to his resignation, published in The Intercept, Poulson takes Alphabet chair John Hennessy to task for shifting the discussion on Dragonfly “from concrete, indefensible details toward the vague language of difficult compromise.”

Poulson calls Google’s response to seemingly legitimate questions about its censored search engine plans “evasive,” and specifically faults Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s attempt to wave away criticism by noting that “well over 99 percent” of search queries wouldn’t be censored.

“Such a framing is perhaps the most extreme example of a broad pattern of redirecting conversations away from their concrete governmental concessions,” writes Poulson, who then adds: “which, again, literally involved blacklisting the phrase ‘human rights,’ risking health by censoring air quality data, and allowing for easy surveillance by tying queries to phone numbers.”

In other words, Poulson is not buying the corporate line.

The public first learned about Dragonfly in a bombshell story by The Intercept, published Aug. 1, which detailed Google’s plan to reintroduce a censored engine to China after having previously stopped censoring searches in 2010.

In a blog post announcing that 2010 decision, Google wrote that “attempts over the last year to further limit free speech on the web in China” had led to its move. As Poulson now points out, it appears that Google has done an about-face and is moving to fill those censorship shoes.

“Human rights organizations around the world, as well as Google’s own employees, have cried out,” writes Poulson. “Google owes them all forthright answers.”

Clearly, Poulson believes his demand for corporate accountability is a step toward getting those answers.

mashable,com

https://mashable.com

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