A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Centre in Zurich. Meanwhile, Jack Poulson, a former Google senior research scientist, told The Intercept that he was one of about five employees to have resigned from the company due to the Dragonfly plans. A central concern expressed by the groups is that, beyond the censorship, user data stored by Google on the Chinese mainland could be accessible to Chinese authorities, who routinely target political activists and journalists.
"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 tools", Google said previously. "I view our intent to capitulate to censorship and surveillance demands in exchange for access to the Chinese market as a forfeiture of our values", Poulson reportedly wrote in his resignation letter to Google.
Among other things, it says the lawmakers felt compelled to reach out to Google with a list of questions following the disclosure last month that Google is looking into making a version of its search engine available in China that would block some websites and search terms.
The 16 lawmakers led by Rep. David Cicilline, Rhode Island Democrat, wrote Google boss Sundar Pichai seeking clarification on the heels of recent news reports involving the company's future in China, echoing concerns raised by Republicans and Democrats in the Senate several weeks earlier.
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An earlier action against Poland was initiated by the European Union executive. But a party spokesman said the group was divided about 50-50.
"Is Google taking steps to ensure that individual Chinese citizens, or foreigners living in China, including Americans, will not be survielled or targeted through Google applications or products?" the House members asked.
Google, which has been blocked in China for nearly a decade, might get hammered about this on September 26.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, said on Tuesday that Google would be invited to testify on a number of issues. "He wrote on Twitter that Google had worked with China and Russian Federation on censorship but no longer wanted to do a technology deal with the U.S. Defense Department".
Google's main search platform has been blocked in China since 2010, but it has been attempting to make new inroads into China.
The reported plans, which has been criticized by human rights advocates, come as China has stepped up scrutiny of business dealings involving US tech firms including Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O), amid intensifying trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.