January 3, 2020
A former Google executive said Thursday he resigned because the company abandoned its promise not to be “evil” and instead became a corporate behemoth pursuing profits over the public good.
Google is kowtowing to China and placing money over customer’s privacy concerns, according to Ross Lajeunesse, Google’s former head of international relations in Asia. He said the company changed dramatically during his tenure, to the point to where it is unrecognizable.
“To me, no additional evidence was needed that ‘Don’t be evil’ was no longer a true reflection of the company’s values; it was now nothing more than just another corporate marketing tool,” Lajeunesse wrote in a Medium post after listing several ways in which Google sold out to profits.
Lajeunesse cited Google’s move in 2017 to create a new censored version of Search for China as one of the reasons for his departure. The tech giant initially forged ties with China in 2006 before cutting off relations in 2010 due to concerns related to Chinese censorship, he noted.
Google abandoned the 2017 Search version, codenamed Dragonfly, in 2018 after employees complained that the plan was not being publicly disclosed. CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly placed Dragonfly high on his list of priorities before the internal outcry.
Google is not the only giant corporation doing business in China. Tesla and General Motors, for instance, are among 200 companies transmitting position information and other data to government-backed monitoring centers in China. The information is regularly collected without citizens’ knowledge.
Tesla in particular has done its level best to make inroads in the country. The electric vehicle maker sells cars in China but under restrictions. Every vehicle is slapped with a 25 percent import tax, dramatically increasing the car’s price. But Google was supposed to be above the fray, Lajeunesse believed.
Lajeunesse claimed executives frequently torpedoed his advice to adopt a company-wide program committing Google to human rights principles found in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
He said the company stonewalled his efforts, deciding instead to “chase bigger profits and an even higher stock price.”
Google’s workplace culture degenerated, too, Lajeunesse said.
At one all-hands meeting, “the entire policy team was separated into various rooms and told to participate in a ‘diversity exercise’ that placed me in a group labeled ‘homos,’” he wrote, adding that his colleagues were “forced to join groups called ‘Asians’ and ‘Brown people.”
Lajeunesse, now a Democratic Senate candidate in Maine, also addressed Google’s insatiable appetite for data, asking: “what are the implications for all of us when that once-great American company controls so much data about billions of users across the globe?”
Google reportedly partnered with the second-largest health care system in the U.S. to create software using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze patient information and give people recommendations to improve their health as part of a not-so-secret project titled “Project Nightingale.”
This article was posted: Friday, January 3, 2020 at 4:46 am