back to article Angry Googlers demand bosses pull the wings off 'Dragonfly' censored Chinese search engine

Over one hundred Google employees have signed an open letter condemning the advertising titan for building a censored version of its search engine for China. The Googlers demand the project be cancelled. "We are Google employees and we join Amnesty International in calling on Google to cancel project Dragonfly, Google’s effort …

  1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    In this thread ...

    People who've never done anything to stand up to authority ridiculing people for standing up to authority.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      "Be careful who you trust,...

      ...the devil was once an angel." - Ziad K. Abdelnour

      Keep in mind when thinking about Google.

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: In this thread ...

      Google is the Government from George Orwell's 1984 dystopia.Google does some great things, but they are a terribly corrupt entity

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: In this thread ...

        Clearly a lot of Google fans here...

  2. ST Silver badge
    Devil

    Google is "a company willing to place its values above its profits"

    I can't stop laughing.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Either it is reassuring to know that there still are idealists working at Google,

      or it is terrifying to see how brainwashed some people are with all the Googley stuff. Don't forget to take your dose every morning - for a healthy and productive day !

    2. A.P. Veening
      FAIL

      Re: Google is "a company willing to place its values above its profits"

      Unfortunate choice of phrase as Google's core value is the bottom line.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google is "a company willing to place its values above its profits"

      Google is a company which knows the profit margin on everything, and the value of nothing.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Somewhere deep in the bowels of Google, someone is figuring out how many of these protesters can be laid off without the company having to issue a WARN.

  4. ma1010 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Google announces lay-offs

    Today Google announced that they are laying off 139 employees due to "economic conditions." These employees, unlike Google executives guilty of sexual harassment, will receive no special payout.

  5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Dragonfly is just the start

    Google was called in this week to have a "candid conversation" with the regulator in Russia which mandates that any search engines interface to their API of prohibited content. If candid conversation does not work, fines will follow.

    I believe they are scheduled similar conversations with regulators in other locations too - Turkey, Iran, etc.

    When the regulator takes you by the balls via a fine calculated in global or even local turnover percentage your mind and soul tends to follow. Quite clearly that is so in the case of Google.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dragonfly is just the start

      Well, in China at least they have temporarily refused to play ball. That's not a problem for China or Russia; they have their own homegrown search engines, that are quite good enough. And the EU is big enough that Google has to follow their whims.

      But if say Turkey decides to fine Google billions, I suspect Google would just pull out of the country and tell them to go fuck themselves.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Dragonfly is just the start

        they have their own homegrown search engines, that are quite good enough

        Problem for Russia (or China) - No. Problem for Google - definitely.

        There are two things which are preventing the emergence of a viable worldwide competitor to Google.

        1. The scorched Earth firewall drawn by their other services and Android around Search and Ads.

        2. Size. You simply have to be of sufficient size to start. There is a gigantic barrier to entry.

        They cannot afford leaving unattended any market capable of growing an indigenous search engine and its own firewall to a size where it can emerge out of it. Doubly so if the local competitors have a head-start or technological advantage.

        There are areas like language analysis where Yandex has always been years ahead of Google. I have not looked at Baidu, but I would not be surprised that this is the case there as well. Anything else aside, Baidu can always beat Google on "local regulations compliance" and get a helping hand from the local Maduros and Erdogans.

        So there will be no "Google leaving the market events" in search. Not in the foreseeable future. A few toys will be occasionally thrown out of the pram, but it will play ball and will share its dolls nicely.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Dragonfly is just the start

          They cannot afford leaving unattended any market capable of growing an indigenous search engine and its own firewall to a size where it can emerge out of it. Doubly so if the local competitors have a head-start or technological advantage.

          For most regions I'd tend to agree.

          But China, Turkey or Russia - I baulk at the thought that anyone would choose to use search engines that emerge from those countries - but I'm afraid I'd probably be disappointed to find out the masses of the tech-unconscious might just switch if they were offered Free Pogs or something, whether you could guarantee it was tracking or censor free or not or laced with propaganda.

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: Dragonfly is just the start

            But China, Turkey or Russia - I baulk at the thought that anyone would choose to use search engines that emerge from those countries

            I have no issue with that. I am being realistic - China tat including one with software written in China is pretty much everywhere. Turkey engineering is good enough to build F16 under license and new long range cruise missiles for NATO. As far as Russian engineering, I have dealt with it for most of my life, its "priorities" maybe a bit strange at times, but there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it either. In any case, the software either one of these write is likely to be higher quality than the software written in a the usual hot and humid place Europe and USA outsources to.

            The issue is elsewhere. Regulatory control over data, software, hardware and the product as a whole. Company governance requirement to the local subsidiaries. Legal compliance. And so on.

            Judging by how successful we are in applying this to Chinese tat and companies, that will be hurdle we will fall over to start over with. By the way - the same applies to Google, F*ckbook and USA companies. No ifs, no buts, no coconuts. The law and the regulations are what they are - same for everyone.

      2. RyokuMas Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Dragonfly is just the start

        "And the EU is big enough that Google has to follow their whims."

        I wouldn't bet on that...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice to know that everything is okay....

    I've gone anonymous ... that way, NOBODY will know that it was me that wrote this comment.

    (It was a last minute thing - I came to my senses and went for the safe option)

    I heard the other day, that a Russian type was being done for not being able to prove how he had earned his money.

    Ha!

    We got him ... that 'one twat' that was corrupt (the system is definitely fair to everybody).

    This comes on the back of 'female abuse' in the arts world ... clearly a small minority of offenders.

    After this; the term 'casting couch' can be seen to be not warranting official language status, as only a few blokes were actually involved.

    In fact, after a number of exposes (not least that little French pillock that brought down the financial system); it seems clear that we (humanity) are absolutely on it ... and the Google staff initiative simply reinforces this view.

    I'm sick of people (tin hat wearers) complaining of their digital world being completely screwed by ... er ... who?

    The Illuminati?

    If you don't get the views that you expected (on YouTube), it's because your video was simply not viewed many times - and it's not reasonable for YouTube to count views from special interest groups because they would obviously watch the video anyway.

    So if you are whining about that, then you need to understand that Google is covering your back.

    This 'Google staff initiative' proves it!

    You (every individual) are not an algorithm, whereby your digital world is moderated according to everything that makes you 'You'.

    ... and there are no 'low paid (so called) Asian staff', managing lists of people of greater interest.

    If that was the case, the entire body of Google staff would have revolted.

    The fact that Google (Alphabet) dropped it's 'Do no evil' clause, is entirely irrelevant.

    This had (and has) no bearing on company policy.

    Simply put:

    There is no censorship.

    No crushing of free speech.

    No suppression of innovation (hey, the big companies love competition).

    "To be, or not to be" was the product of deluded minds.

    ... and if it was correct in Elizabethan times ... it has long since died a death.

    The Google staff initiative, in truth, reminds us that we are all okay

    ... er ... to such an extent, that we don't even have to think about ourselves being brainwashed

    We can spare our time for the Chinese, because these are the brainwashed people

    ... not us ;)

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Nice to know that everything is okay....

      It's no use to try being anonymous, amanfrommars. We all know it's you.

      1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Nice to know that everything is okay....

        Can't be aMfM because he's occasionally coherent. Unlike that post.

        I especially like the reference to "Russian Types" by which I am guessing he means Jahangir Hajiyev who is from Azerbaijan.

    2. Jimmy2Cows
      FAIL

      Re: Nice to know that everything is okay....

      You off your meds or something? This has to be the worst piece of incoherent drivel ranting there's been on here for quite a while.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nice to know that everything is okay....

        I miss Lewis.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Nice to know that everything is okay....

        incoherent drivel ranting there's been on here for quite a while

        And let's face it, the various Brexit 'discussions' have set a pretty low bar..

    3. Kane Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Nice to know that everything is okay....

      "I've gone anonymous ... that way, NOBODY will know that it was me that wrote this comment."

      Except for El Reg moderators, yes?

      "I'm sick of people (tin hat wearers) complaining of their digital world being completely screwed by ... er ... who?"

      Says the Anonymous Coward.

      Meh, I can't be bothered with the rest of your post, you provide no context for the statements that you make, nor relevance.

      I'm out.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice to know that everything is okay....

      Really interesting to see the responses.

      When writing a piece like this, it could clearly go either way.

      As it happened the downvote was the way to go (which is fine).

      I guess that there is always a chance that somebody might write this for real.

      :)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don’t be evil

    LOL

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Don’t be evil

      How about "Don't be caught being more evil than your shareholders want".

      Probably a bit long.

  8. Rainer

    What's up next?

    Are they signing petitions soon to not collect any data from users and not monetarize it towards the evil ad-buyers?

    That's like working in the defense-sector and keeping saying to yourself "It's only for defense, see, it's in the name". All the while working on a compartmentalized bit of a Reaper drone...

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: What's up next?

      Are they signing petitions soon to not collect any data from users and not monetarize it towards the evil ad-buyers?

      I often think why bother (the monetize, not the collection) - I recently opted out of targeted ads, and haven't noticed the ads fed to me in the browser any less relevant whatsoever.

      Ad-buyers aught to consider whether in fact Google are selling them dreams of relevant targeted advertising.

      Not that it matters, they've got the online advertising channel 'sewn up' - but it seems to me it's nothing more than similar to getting your ad on the most watched TV channel back in TVs prime, and not much more than that.

      1. A.P. Veening

        Re: What's up next?

        "I recently opted out of targeted ads, and haven't noticed the ads fed to me in the browser any less relevant whatsoever."

        Have those ads by any chance become more relevant? In my experience less relevant is hardly possible at all as the ads are always for stuff I just bought and am not likely to need a replacement for within the next ten years.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: What's up next?

          Have those ads by any chance become more relevant? In my experience less relevant is hardly possible at all as the ads are always for stuff I just bought and am not likely to need a replacement for within the next ten years.

          No. Very slightly less relevant - it's noticeable but on some sites more than others. It's now only trying to sell me things I'd never ever, ever use rather than occasionally things I've already got one of and don't want any more of. The vast majority of ads, remains, as it was, massively irrelevant to my life, it's only more so now than it was - slightly.

      2. Rainer

        Re: What's up next?

        > Ad-buyers aught to consider whether in fact Google are selling them dreams of relevant targeted

        > advertising.

        With the amount of click-fraud going on (see the CERT-advisory sent out yestersday), it's a wonder anyone actually makes any money on the products peddled by ads.

  9. martinusher Silver badge

    Its a corporation, not a cooperative

    I get the feeling we've been neglecting to tell our children about the facts of life with regard to the nature of work and how it relates to society. Since this isn't the first time I've read this sort of thing maybe we should fill them in with a bit of a history lesson.

    First, a primer in the economics of work. Companies make money by making profits and those profits are typically from buying something at one price and selling it at a higher price. People are used to this with stuff in shops but don't realize that their labor is also a commodity that gets bought and sold. A typical employee doesn't have a whole lot of negotiating leverage with a company; some of us are sufficiently highly skilled to have more leverage than others but on the whole regardless of the HR BS you're just a work widget, and a replaceable one at that.

    As anyone who's worked for a tech company who's been through layoffs will tell you the Kumbaya "We're all part of the XXXXXX family" comes to a shattering halt when reductions in force happen. That's when you discover that you really are a work widget. Corporations are not democracies, at least not below the executive level, and you don't really get a say in corporate policy. The corporation is also very interested in getting the maximum return on investment out of their work widgets; the only question is how they'll go about it. In the bad old days down the mine it would be a 5 and a half day work week, back breaking toil, dangerous working conditions and a bit of silicosis on the side. These days it might be worked to near death while being closely monitored for signs of slacking at an Amazon fulfillment center. Or it could be a collegiate environment that's made so comfortable that you don't really want to go home. Ever. Do not misunderstand your place, though -- at the first sign of a slowdown it will be back to cheap filter coffee (if you're lucky) and cube farms.

    Last, but by no means least, back in the Good Old Days the way work widgets tried to redress the balance of power between them and the company was by forming a union. Companies hate them which is why there's been such a sustained campaign against them in both the US and the UK spanning a generation or more (when they first appeared in the UK the reaction was to pass the Combination Acts which promised free relocation to Australia for anyone participating in a non-religious meeting). They have their place, though, and you never know, the company might be smart enough to co-opt a union representative or two onto the board.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Its a corporation, not a cooperative

      sustained campaign against them in both the US and the UK

      To be fair (and I remember the 1970s), the pendulum had swung too far tawards the unions and things needed to be rebalanced.

      Unfortunately, it swung too far the other way. Maybe we need to damp the osscilation a little bit to get a nice central steady-state.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Its a corporation, not a cooperative

        To be fair (and I remember the 1970s), the pendulum had swung too far tawards the unions and things needed to be rebalanced.

        @CrazyOldCatMan

        I do believe you were, I only vaguely remember the 70's, being born early that decade, but we should always be wary of stories like that from a decade or two ago, as generally the truth of the situation was doctored by whoever came out on top, even if they were firmly in the right (moreso if they were firmly to the right or the left).

        I do believe Management inefficiencies were also equally to blame during that era, but they've only seemed to get worse, having never been redressed.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Its a corporation, not a cooperative

          I remember the 70's and industrial action beyond then

          Lots of PR convinced lots of the public the unions were too powerful.

          ..As was said, just like now, lots of inept short term management / lack of investment.

          Lots of union bashing laws brought in.

          The UK workforce now has the consequences of that - zero hours contacts, dismal conditions for many in low end jobs (e.g. Amazon, Sports direct warehouses have been well publicised)

          Love how so many of the pro Brexit take back control ideology folk were pro destroying Miners strike* as it destroyed coal self sufficiency (and allowed lots of cheap coal imports without accusations of taking UK jobs as UK mining jobs had already been wiped out)

          * classic lions led by donkeys scenario, Scargill was a muppet, totally out manouvered by the government, the workers at the coal face suffered the consequences.

          Yes I know miners strike was mid 80s but it was essentially the final curtain on union power

  10. Neoc

    Wrong target

    So we have people having a go at Google because it is planning to obey Chinese Laws in China? Am I the only one finding this ridiculous? If you don't agree with the laws, get the laws changed. But that would require you to stand up to an oppressive government (which might retaliate) instead of a corporation (which might simply ignore you).

    What if people outside of the US consider some of the filtering Google does to its western feed "censoring"? Would you be willing to have some of these rules relaxed, or will *your* concept of "right" try to override theirs? Bloody hell, governments can't even agree on simple laws (like at what age you can start drinking. Or driving. Or are even allowed to know that dirty magazines exist) so why don't we have a free-for-all of all these arguments for-and-against the various "censoring" of searches and see how far that gets us.

    Google will be applying *Chinese* rules in *China*. Get over it. Or, if you can't, do something about the rules you are objecting to. (and, for the record, I hate Chinese censorship. But I am also realistic on my ability to change The Party's opinions)

    And now for the downvotes from the "won't somebody think of the children" brigade.

  11. Suricou Raven

    Something of a pointless refusal.

    The objectors seem to think that without the mighty power of Google, China's censorship efforts will be impaired. Not true: China already has a very popular, fully censored domestic search engine, Baidu. It also runs advertising.

    Short of some form of Grand Scheme involving decentralised self-organising networks of Android phones flooding China, Google's actions aren't going to affect China's censorship policy much either way. Either people in China will be using a censored Google, or a censored Baidu.

    Censored Google is probably better. At least Google is likely to do the minimum censoring and tracking they are required by law in China, while domesticly-owned companies go beyond that.

  12. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    Kowtow To Totalitarian Human Rights Abusers, China: Criminal Nation?

    I

    Don't

    Think So!

    - - But they're dangling $MONEY$ on a stick!

    Oh, that's different.

    [Stupid human tricks. Fast and furious. Idiocracy.]

  13. RobertLongshaft

    The hypocrisy is mind blowing.

    Here we have a company, that fired an engineer for daring to state scientific fact about the difference between men and women. Proving that freedom is something Google wholeheartedly doesn't believe in. And these clowns are now signing a letter asking the leadership to stop a multi billion dollar project because "we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be."

    No, you object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable when you aren't the powerful, don't control the powerful and have no say in what they do. But when the raving loony radical leftist at Google hold all the power and do all the oppressing, well then, that's absolutely fine.

    Episode #102856356 of leftist hypocrisy, laid bare for all to see.....

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      The hypocrisy is mind blowing.

      Here we have a company, that fired an engineer for daring to state scientific fact about the difference between men and women.

      It's not really hypocrisy, Googles internal debate ethos is quite logical and clever - by allowing discussion and encouraging debate internally they can identify the malcontents and track their influence and associations - it also serves as a release valve to any ethical bottlenecks to doing business from your drones.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Angry Googlers

    Have they written a letter to their bosses yet, to tell them how angry they are? Have they voiced their anger on FB? Twittered about it much? All this would have surely brought the Evil Empire to its knees. Fucking hypocrites anyway.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Are we the bad guys?"

    One of many brilliant Mitchell and Webb sketches

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pence..

    ..is probably just annoyed that Google didn't offer to do the same for the US..

    Like his boss, that man never met an authoritarian that he didn't like.

  17. Handle123456

    I'm more concerned about the censored version for the rest of the world

    Google has come a long way from their original "don't be evil" to having a political agenda and filtering and resorting the search results accordingly.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: I'm more concerned about the censored version for the rest of the world

      Google has come a long way from their original "don't be evil" to having a political agenda and filtering and resorting the search results accordingly.

      I'm not sure prioritising 'shopping' results above 'informational' is political.

  18. adam payne Silver badge

    The signatories argue that they felt Google was "a company willing to place its values above its profits"

    Maybe in the past but certainly not now their a massive company.

  19. NiceCuppaTea

    Hypocracy at its finest...

    "Our opposition to Dragonfly is not about China," says today's open letter, "we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be."

    So how about all the DMCA takedowns for fair use videos on the Tube ? Filtering out search results as the result of DMCA requests without court order?

    If your gonna have standards and a conscience at least be consistent.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Hoouu, burn !

  20. Wandering Reader

    Is there an open letter about this sort of censorship?

    "Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe."

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other news, China implements social credits system for internal travel ...

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-social-credit-system-flight-booking-blacklisted-beijing-points-a8646316.html

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