San Francisco, Jan 3, 2020-
A top-notch former executive has blasted Google over its handling of human rights at its offices, alleging that he was sidelined when raised questions over the tech giant’s search engine project called “Dragonfly” for the China market.
Ross LaJeunesse, now a Democratic candidate for US Senate in Maine who worked as Google’s Head of International Relations, wrote on Medium that no longer can massive tech companies like Google be permitted to operate relatively free from government oversight.
“The company’s motto used to be aDon’t be evil.’ Dragonfly was only one of several developments that concerned those of us who still believed in the mantra of ‘Don’t be evil’. I was also concerned that Cloud executives were actively pursuing deals with the Saudi government, given its horrible record of human rights abuses,” LaJeunesse said in the post on Thursday.
In December 2017, Google announced the establishment of the Google Center for Artificial Intelligence in Beijing.
“A colleague was suddenly re-assigned to lead the policy team discussions for Dragonfly. As someone who consistently advocated for a human rights-based approach, I was being sidelined from the on-going conversations on whether to launch Dragonfly,” the Google executive added.
“Just when Google needed to double down on a commitment to human rights, it decided to instead chase bigger profits and an even higher stock price”.
Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai (Now the Alphabet CEO) told US regulators last year that Google had ano plans’ to launch the censored search engine project “right now”. The company which is blocked in China abandoned the project.
However, some Google employees reportedly believe they found evidence that Google’s plans to launch Dragonfly in China are still ongoing.
LaJeunesse also slammed Google for its handling of human rights – an issue that has led to internal advocacy within the company.
“It was no different in the workplace culture. Senior colleagues bullied and screamed at young women, causing them to cry at their desks. At an all-hands meeting, my boss said, ‘now you Asians come to the microphone too. I know you don’t like to ask questions’,” wrote LaJeunesse.
He said: “I think the important question is what does it mean when one of America’s marque’ companies changes so dramatically. Is it the inevitable outcome of a corporate culture that rewards growth and profits over social impact and responsibility?”
The US government has launched a probe into Google over its labour practices following a complaint from employees who have been fired by the tech giant.
The tech giant has been accused of “union busting” and retaliatory behaviour after it sacked the employees for allegedly violating the company’s data security policies. (Agency)