former Google employee has warned of the firm's "disturbing" plans in
China, in a letter to US lawmakers.
Poulson, who had been a senior researcher at the company until resigning
in August, wrote that he was fearful of Google's ambitions.
letter alleges Google's work on a Chinese product - codenamed Dragonfly
- would aid Beijing's efforts to censor and monitor its citizens online.
has said its work in China to date has been "exploratory".
Gomes, Google's head of search, told the BBC earlier this week: "Right
now all we've done is some exploration, but since we don't have any
plans to launch something there's nothing much I can say about it."
has not commented on the staff row, but said: "We've been investing for
many years to help Chinese users, from developing Android, through
mobile apps such as Google Translate and Files Go, and our developer
added: "We are not close to launching a search product in China."
Poulson's letter details several aspects of Google's work that had been
reported in the press but never officially confirmed by the company. It
was submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee, which held a hearing on
Wednesday in Washington DC.
topic of the hearing was "examining safeguards for consumer data
chief privacy officer, Keith Enright, faced questions from Senator Ted
Cruz about the company's intentions to launch a new search engine in
Enright confirmed to the Republican lawmaker that Project Dragonfly
existed but added that a product was not close to launch.
from AT&T, Apple, Twitter and Amazon also took part in the hearing,
most of which centred on whether there was a need for a new federal data
letter alleges Google is working on:
prototype interface designed to allow a Chinese joint venture company
to search for a given user's search queries based on their phone
extensive censorship blacklist developed in accordance with Chinese
government demands. Among others, it contained the English term "human
rights", the Mandarin terms for 'student protest' and 'Nobel prize',
and very large numbers of phrases involving 'Xi Jinping' and other
members of the CCP
code to ensure only Chinese government-approved air quality data would
be returned in response to Chinese users' search
Poulson said the sum of these efforts amounted to a "catastrophic
failure" of Google's internal policies on privacy - as well as going
against assurances made to the US trade regulator regarding data
protection measures in its products.
is part of a broad pattern of unaccountable decision making across the
tech industry," Mr Poulson wrote.