A coalition of human rights groups organized demonstrations in 10 different countries Friday against Google's plan to launch a censored Chinese search engine that would allow authorities to filter out certain words and phrases and link phone numbers to search queries.
The Google-designed search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, has been the subject of an intense backlash from the White House, human rights activists and even Google's own employees. The project had "effectively ended" after members of the tech giant's privacy team voiced concerns, The Intercept reported in August. Still, Google CEO Sundar Pichai did not categorically rule out launching it in the communist country during his congressional testimony in December.
On Friday, demonstrators held signs outside of Google's offices in the United States, U.K., Canada, India, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark, according to The Intercept. The coalition has set up a website encouraging users to push the Mountain View, Calif. company to cancel any potential Chinese search engine and they can also sign a petition against Dragonfly.
Google “should be connecting the world through the sharing of information, not facilitating human rights abuses by a repressive government determined to crush all forms of peaceful online dissent,” Gloria Montgomery, director at Tibet Society UK, told The Intercept.
On Tuesday, a group of investors said to represent about $700 billion in assets called on Google and other tech companies to "respect users' right to privacy and freedom of expression."
In January, Google engineer Liz Fong-Jones, a critic of Dragonfly, resigned from the tech behemoth citing a "lack of accountability and oversight" at the firm.
In addition to Internet dissent from at least 1,000 employees, Google has been blasted by multiple human rights groups -- including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders.
The tech giant said in a recent blog post that it would institute new ethics training for employees and establish a group of outside experts to assess new projects and products. Still, some Google employees took issue with the new process.
“It’s superficial,” one current Google engineer told The Intercept. “We still need more accountability, more transparency, and a seat at the table when it comes to the big decisions — otherwise there will be nothing to stop projects like Dragonfly from being railroaded through again in the future.”
Fox News has reached out to Google for comment.