Former Google Scientist Asks Senators For Answers On China Censorship Search Project

A letter sent Monday to the U.S. Senate commerce, science and transportation committee over the China search project by Jack Poulson, former senior research scientist at Google until he resigned on August 31, urges members to demand answers on the censorship search project known as Project Dragonfly.

First reported in mid-September, the letter written by Poulson describes a “pattern of unethical and unaccountable decision making from company leadership.” He described Project Dragonfly as “a version of Google Search tailored to the censorship and surveillance demands of the Chinese government.”

Poulson’s letter also states that “Project Dragonfly directly contradicts the AI Principles’ commitment to not ‘“design or deploy”’ any technology whose purpose ‘“contravenes widely accepted principles of [...] human rights.’”

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He also calls out some of what he believes to be the “most disturbing” parts of Project Dragonfly such as a prototype interface designed to allow a Chinese joint venture company to search for a given user’s search queries based on their phone number. A censorship blacklist developed with Chinese government demands.

It also contained the term for human rights, the Mandarin terms for student protest and Nobel Prize, and a large numbers of phrases involving Xi Jinping and other members of the CCP.

And it contained explicit code to ensure that only Chinese government-approved air quality data would serve up in response to Chinese user search queries.

Earlier this month Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg showed up for a Senate hearing, but Google executives did not. While Senators criticized Google’s absence, the company attributed it to a misunderstanding.

MediaPost reached out to Poulson, who also was a former assistant teacher at Stanford, but he did not respond.

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