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Google's China plan spurs inquiry from U.S. lawmakers, staff departures

16 September 2018

Sources familiar with the project said that prototypes of the search engine linked the search app on a user's Android smartphone with their phone number.

Poulson told The Intercept that he was of the opinion that the censored search engine plan went against the principles governing Google's artificial intelligence project, which said the company would not use technologies "whose objective contravenes widely accepted principles of global law and human rights".

Alphabet's chief executive Sundar Pichai earlier this month reportedly confirmed that Google was not close to launching a search engine app in China, but Pichai did confirm the firm is developing the app, and that "providing more services in that country fits with Google's global mission". On Thursday, 16 USA lawmakers wrote to Google CEO Sundar Pichai expressing "serious concerns" about Dragonfly and demanding information about the company's China plans.

A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Centre in Zurich.

"Unfortunately, the virtually unanimous response over the course of three very vocal weeks of escalation was: 'I don't know either, '" Poulson reportedly said.

"If true, this reported plan is deeply troubling and risks making Google complicit in human rights abuses related to China's rigorous censorship regime", the senators wrote last month.

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The congressmen then asked Pichai to answer 5 questions, including, "Is Google taking steps to ensure that individual Chinese citizens, or foreigners living in China, including Americans, will not be surveilled or targeted through Google applications or products?"

His resignation letter read, "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".

Other signers include Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.

Google, which has been blocked in China for nearly a decade, might get hammered about this on September 26. "He wrote on Twitter that Google had worked with China and Russian Federation on censorship but no longer wanted to do a technology deal with the U.S. Defense Department".

The reported plans, which has been criticized by human rights advocates, come as China has stepped up scrutiny of business dealings involving USA tech firms including Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O), amid intensifying trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.

Google's main search platform has been blocked in China since 2010, but it has been attempting to make new inroads into the world's largest smartphone market by users.

Google's China plan spurs inquiry from U.S. lawmakers, staff departures