Google employees have pledged $200,000 to the company’s engineers if they go on strike to protest its decision to release a censored search engine for China.
Liz Fong-Jones, a Google Cloud Platform engineer, told The Hill that a strike fund to support Google employees who choose to strike over the development of the search engine, dubbed “Dragonfly,” has raised more than $125,000.
Fong-Jones, who created the fund, said the $125,000 came from a pool of 21 current and two former Google employees. She said in a message that she would also donate $100,000 to the effort.
Engineers involved in the strike fund are pursuing legal advice for dispensing the funds should employees on strike face retribution from the company.
Some programmers and other staffers at Google have voiced concerns about the company’s work with the Chinese government to develop Dragonfly. The project has faced stiff criticism from human rights activists, Google employees and Vice President Pence, who all say it could contribute to Beijing’s state suppression and censorship.
News of the fund’s creation follows after a report from The Intercept claimed that Google allegedly developed the project without privacy and security teams’ supervision. The report also claimed that the company ignored about human rights concerns during early development meetings for the project, and that the company was avoiding standard development checks.
In response, Google said in a statement that the company had not yet decided whether to launch the Dragonfly platform, which it dubbed “an exploratory project,” and stressed that privacy reviews would be completed before any product was launched.
“For any product, final launch is contingent on a full, final privacy review but we’ve never gotten to that point in development,” the company told the BBC in a statement. “Privacy reviews at Google are non-negotiable and we never short-circuit the process.”