An ex-employee at Google warned of the company’s disturbing plans for China, in a letter addressed to lawmakers in the U.S.
Jack Poulson resigned from Google last month, but before resigning he was a senior researcher with the company and wrote that he feared Google’s ambitions.
The letter alleges that Google’s work on a product in China that has the codename Dragonfly, would help the efforts of Beijing to monitor and censor its citizens online.
Google says that its work to date in China has only been exploratory. The head of search at Google Ben Gomes said that at this time some exploration is all that has been done, but since no plans are made to launch anything there is not much to say.
Last week The Intercept, a news site released a report that alleged Google demanded its employees delete one of its internal memos that discussed its plans.
Google has not made comments about this, but did say it has invested for several years in helping users in China, from the developing of Android, through its mobile apps like Files Go and Google Translate, and developer tools.
It added that the company was not close to launching any China based search product.
The letter by Poulson details many aspects of the work Google is doing that was reported at one time in the press but not officially confirmed. It was given to the Senate Commerce Committee and a hearing was held by the committee in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.
The hearings’ topic was examining safeguards for data privacy for consumers.
The chief privacy officer for Google Keith Enright was asked several questions by Senator Ted Cruz over the intentions of the company to launch a new search engine across China.
Enright confirmed to the Texas lawmaker that Dragonfly did exist but added the product was not even close to being launch.
Representatives from Apple AT&T, Amazon and Twitter were present at Wednesday’s hearing of which most centered on if there was the need for a new federal law for data privacy.
Poulson’s letter alleges that Google was developing a prototype interface that is designed to allow a joint venture company in China search for the search queries of a given user based upon the user’s phone number.
An extensive blacklist for censorship was made in accordance with demands made by the Chinese government. Amongst the words blacklisted were human rights, Mandarin terms for Nobel Prize and student protest, and large numbers of different phrases that involved Chinese president Xi Jinping and other CCP members.