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Google employees ready to strike over China censorship deal

For many, the idea of technology means the freedom to access information, and this vision is held by many who elect to work for technology companies. This is why Google’s new China venture has caused dismay among its workforce. Reported by The Intercept, Google has apparently been working on a project code-named Dragonfly. This is to build a search engine for China that would have the additional functionality to “censor broad categories of information about human rights, democracy, and peaceful protest.”

This has not gone down well with many Google employees. For example, The Verge reports that Liz Fong-Jones, a Google worker and employee advocate, has indicated that Google employees are considering how concerned workers will respond. This includes building up a strike fund, should walk-outs be part of the response. It would seem that over $200,000 has been raised for such activities.

Google takes a mixed-approach to censorship and freedom of information. Earlier this year Google announced it is to tighten its political advertising policies, which means any advert that mentions a political party, candidate, or office holder will need to explicitly state who paid for the promotion. This change in policy will come into force ahead of the 2019 European Union parliamentary elections, as Digital Journal has reported: “Google agrees to tighten up on political adverts.”

This is not the only case of technology company employees expressing misgivings about the direction that their companies are taking. Microsoft workers, for example, have expressed dismay about their company’s increasingly close relationship with the U.S. military and the provision of services. See “Microsoft gains major U.S. army defense contract.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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