from the chaotic-neutral dept.
Three former Google software engineers who sued the company yesterday claim they were fired for following Google's famous "Don't be evil" mantra.
"Google terminated each plaintiffs' employment with it for adhering to the directive 'Don't be evil' and calling out activity by Google that they each believed betrayed that directive," according to the complaint filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court by Rebecca Rivers, Sophie Waldman, and Paul Duke. The ex-employees say Google falsely blamed them for a data leak after they circulated an internal petition.
The lawsuit notes that the Google Code of Conduct "that each full-time Google employee is required to sign as a condition of employment" specifically instructs them not to be evil. The ex-employees say they tried to uphold the "Don't be evil" policy in August 2019 by circulating a petition "requesting that Google affirm that it would not collaborate with CBP [US Customs and Border Protection] or ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] with respect to enforcement of the Trump border control policies."
"[E]ach plaintiff protested Google's engagement in supporting BCP policies that resulted in separation of families and 'caging' of immigrants who were seeking asylum in the United States," the complaint said.
Google's firings of Rivers, Waldman, and Duke are also part of an ongoing case in which the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Google.
(2018-10-13) Google Leak: The Good Censor
(2018-09-14) "Senior Google Scientist" Resigns over Chinese Search Engine Censorship Project
(2018-05-19) "Don't be Evil" Disappearing From Google's Code of Conduct
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A number of soylentils have written in to let us know that Google is opening up the possibility of being evil by eliminating it from their code of conduct. You've been warned.
"Don't be Evil" Starting to Disappear From Google's Code of Conduct
Google's unofficial motto has long been the simple phrase "don't be evil." But that's over, according to the code of conduct that Google distributes to its employees. The phrase was removed sometime in late April or early May, archives hosted by the Wayback Machine show.
[...] The updated version of Google's code of conduct still retains one reference to the company's unofficial motto—the final line of the document is still: "And remember... don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right – speak up!"
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A senior Google research scientist has quit the company in protest over its plan to launch a censored version of its search engine in China.
Jack Poulson worked for Google's research and machine intelligence department, where he was focused on improving the accuracy of the company's search systems. In early August, Poulson raised concerns with his managers at Google after The Intercept revealed that the internet giant was secretly developing a Chinese search app for Android devices. The search system, code-named Dragonfly, was designed to remove content that China's authoritarian government views as sensitive, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.
After entering into discussions with his bosses, Poulson decided in mid-August that he could no longer work for Google. He tendered his resignation and his last day at the company was August 31.
He told The Intercept in an interview that he believes he is one of about five of the company's employees to resign over Dragonfly. He felt it was his "ethical responsibility to resign in protest of the forfeiture of our public human rights commitments," he said.
Poulson, who was previously an assistant professor at Stanford University's department of mathematics, said he believed that the China plan had violated Google's artificial intelligence principles, which state that the company will not design or deploy technologies "whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights."
Google, continuing to distance itself from "Don't be evil.", has produced an internal document that endorses political censorship to influence elections and more. The argument is that free speech (an "American tradition") is not viable on the internet due to various factors such as the 2016 election of President Donald J. Trump.
The document admits that big tech companies "control the majority of online conversations" and have made a "shift towards censorship" over the popularity of political choices that they are unwilling to accept. This directly contradicts the repeated assertions that the political bias of big tech company executives doesn't end up affecting the products.
Fortunately for free speech, that document has leaked and now you can see the thinking of those who deem themselves your masters.
According to the briefing itself, it was the product of an extensive process involving "several layers of research," including expert interviews with MIT Tech Review editor-in-chief Jason Pontin, Atlantic staff writer Franklin Foer, and academic Kalev Leetaru. 35 cultural observers and 7 cultural leaders from seven countries on five continents were also consulted to produce it.
The Breitbart report is divided into several parts:
- Leaked Google Briefing Admits Abandonment of Free Speech For "Safety and Civility" - explains the desire of Google, Twitter, and Facebook to "create well-ordered spaces for safety and civility" on the grounds that the "European tradition" "favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom."
- Leaked Briefing Says Google Must Move Away from 'American Tradition' of Free Speech to Expand Globally, Attract Advertiser $$$s - explains that Google's grounds is simply to make more money.
- Google Briefing Accused Trump of Spreading 'Conspiracy Theory' - for saying that Google suppressed negative news about Hillary Clinton.
- Google Document Suggests Web Must Be Controlled Because 'Users Are Behaving Badly' - which focuses on "cyber harassment", "cyber racism" including nationalism, and venting about frustrating experiences. It must be noted that Google invited several notorious online harassers to speak as "anti-harassment" experts.
- Google Growth Strategy: 'Shift Towards Censorship' to Appease Authoritarian Governments - explains that Google's motivation is to appease foreign governments and advertisers.
- Google Briefing Admits Censorship Makes It Akin to a 'Publisher' - suggests that Google may now be legally liable in the United States for the content it carries.