International Coalition Demands Google Stand Up for Free Speech and Human Rights on Internet Freedom Day
LONDON, UK — On Friday, 18 January, a coalition of Chinese, Tibetan, Uyghur, and human rights groups will protest outside Google’s King’s Cross office in London to demand that the internet giant scrap its controversial plans to build a censored search engine for the Chinese market – “Project Dragonfly” The protests in London are part of a larger global effort calling on Google to protect free speech and human rights on Internet Freedom Day – commemorated on January 18th. A full list of actions that will be taking place on Friday 18 January can be found below.
The event in London on Friday, will see activists gather outside Google’s HQ with messages highlighting the risks Dragonfly poses to freedom of speech and internet security and calling on the tech company to end the project. Those involved will also hand out leaflets to Google employees and the public. The organisers have stated that this will be the first of a series of protests that will continue until Google executives confirm that Project Dragonfly has been canceled, once and for all.
At Google’s King’s Cross Office, London:
WHEN: Friday, 18th January. 12-2pm LOCAL TIME
WHERE: Six Pancras Square, King’s Cross, London N1C 4AG
Project Dragonfly is a search app targeted at the Chinese market that has been under development by Google since at least 2017. The app would comply with the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s tight internet censorship laws and would restrict searches for forbidden or sensitive topics, including ‘human rights’, ‘democracy’, ‘Tiananmen’ and ‘Tibet’. The app would also facilitate Chinese state surveillance by linking users’ search history with their telephone numbers.
Google executives continue to deny the existence of Dragonfly, despite repeated requests for information. A letter sent in August 2018 to Google CEO Sundar Pichai from a coalition of 170 Tibet Groups, alerting him to the serious human rights risks posed by Dragonfly, never received a response. Since the launch of the campaign in December 2018, over 50,000 people have already signed petitions or written to Google, calling on the company to halt its development of Project Dragonfly and commit to an open and free Internet.
The coalition of groups launching the global day of action on Internet Freedom Day includes the World Uyghur Congress, Free Tibet, International Tibet Network, Students for a Free Tibet, Tibet Action Institute, Tibet Society, SumOfUs and other activists from Chinese, Tibetan and Uyghur communities.
Gloria Montgomery, Director at Tibet Society UK said: “It is utterly shameful that Google’s directors are doing China’s dirty work. The tech giant should be connecting the world through the sharing of information, not facilitating human rights abuses by a repressive government determined to crush all forms of peaceful online dissent. Google’s directors must urgently take heed of calls from employees and tens of thousands of global citizens demanding that they immediately halt project dragonfly. If they don’t, Google risks irreversible damage to its reputation.”
John Jones, Campaigns and Advocacy Manager at Free Tibet explained: “Google was widely celebrated when they withdrew from China in 2010, and the company clearly stated that it did not ‘want to engage in political censorship’. Yet in recent years, the human rights situation in China has gone further downhill and online censorship has shot up. This is the China that Google’s CEO wants to return to. The muddled thinking behind Project Dragonfly can surely only be explained by a desire for new markets and new money. But at what cost? By searching for profits while collaborating in censorship, Google is betraying its users, its staff and its reputation. The company must change course and drop Dragonfly immediately”.
Mandie McKeown, Campaign Coordinator at International Tibet Network added: “Google’s former motto, ‘Don’t Be Evil’, is looking more and more like a distant memory. The company that withdrew from China and stood up to censorship eight years ago is now preparing to sell out millions of people, from persecuted Tibetans and Uyghurs to Chinese people seeking democracy and human rights. To avoid betraying these people, its staff, its users and its principles, Google must cancel Project Dragonfly and reaffirm its commitment to an open internet.“
Sondhya Gupta, Campaigner at SumOfUs, concluded: “Google is letting us down. Instead of living up to its early promise to be a democratizing force, it is colluding with repressive regimes, censoring the very people for whom the unfettered flow of information offered most progress. Google continues to collect and profit from the data of its millions of users, so today its consumers are joining together with Google employees, shareholders and those communities most impacted by the company’s belief that technology is neutral, to hold it to account. Project dragonfly would normalize tech giants’ complicity in human rights abuses: Google must cancel it immediately.”
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Tibet Society is the world’s first ever Tibet support group. The Society was founded in 1959, within weeks of the flight of the Dalai Lama from Tibet following the uprising against China’s occupation. Today, the organization continues to work actively for the freedom of the Tibetan people and their right to self-determination.
SumOfUs is a global consumer group that campaigns to hold big corporations accountable. Over 14 million people have taken over 50 million actions worldwide with SumOfUs since it launched.
Free Tibet is a London-based international campaign organisation. Its vision is a free Tibet in which Tibetans are able to determine their own future and the human rights of all are respected. It campaigns for an end to China’s occupation of Tibet and for international recognition of Tibetans’ right to freedom.
International Tibet Network is a coalition of more than 170 Tibet organizations, campaigning for an end to human rights violations in Tibet and restoring rights to the Tibetan people.
CONTACTS IN LONDON:
Gloria Montgomery, Tibet Society
Tel: +44 (0)20 7923 0021
John Jones, Free Tibet
Tel: +44 (0)207 324 4605
Mandie McKeown, International Tibet Network
Tel: +44 (0)7748158618
Sondhya Gupta, SumOfUs
Details of other global actions taking place on Friday 18 January. For further information on these events, please contact Mandie McKeown, International Tibet Network (E: email@example.com Tel: +44 (0)7748158618)
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