A senior research scientist at Google has resigned in protest over the company’s plans to launch a search engine in China that censors topics disagreeable to the Communist regime.
Last month, The Intercept reported on confidential documents on plans to launch a state-approved search app for Android devices that automatically filters certain websites, terms, and phrases from results. Content typically blacklisted in China includes Facebook, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, books such as 1984, and subjects including free speech, the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and more. The leaked documents specifically mention the BBC and Wikipedia as examples of blocked sites.
Last Thursday, the publication followed up with a report that Jack Poulson, a former Stanford mathematics professor who worked in the internet giant’s research and machine intelligence department, has resigned in protest of those plans. His work focused on the accuracy of Google’s search systems.
Poulson confronted his employers about the report, but to no avail. He decided last month that he had to leave the company. He worked his last day on August 31.
“Due to my conviction that dissent is fundamental to functioning democracies, I am forced to resign in order to avoid contributing to, or profiting from, the erosion of protection for dissidents,” Poulson said in a letter to his superiors. “I view our intent to capitulate to censorship and surveillance demands in exchange for access to the Chinese market as a forfeiture of our values and governmental negotiating position across the globe.”
Google’s corporate code of conduct since 2000 was “Don’t be evil.” But that phrase, however, was removed from an updated code of conduct earlier this year.