Google may be keeping its so-called Project Dragonfly funded and active against the wishes of US lawmakers and many of its staff.
The project, meant to test the viability of a censored search engine product in China, has been reviewed by a group of employees who were frustrated at the lack of transparency they were getting from leadership. The company reportedly killed Dragonfly in December, but has never announced such news.
Their findings, passed along to The Intercept, reveal that Google has reallocated project funds to areas of similar interest. In a code repository for two apps, program staff are reported to have made about 500 edits in December and about 400 in the following two months.
In a leaked memo, Dragonfly team lead Caesar Sengupta told employees that since July, those who defected from the program are working on improving things in adjacent areas — much of that in Chinese language processing.
In a statement to Android Police, Google said, as it has “for many months” that it has no plans and no work set for a Chinese search engine. “Team members have moved to new projects,” the statement goes on.
Google’s stance on a search engine censored to Chinese regulations has varied from having one in 2006 to killing it in 2010. Current CEO Sundar Pichai has expressed interest in restarting services to capitalize on a market untapped by much of Silicon Valley. However, many within and outside the company believe that Google would stand complicit to covering up Beijing’s human rights violations.