Former Google engineer James Damore claimed Tuesday that he was one of a handful of employees working on a now-decommissioned Chinese search engine before the company fired him.
Damore claimed on Reddit that he was one of about 100 people involved with Dragonfly, a search engine the company was creating to comply with China’s censorship laws. He was responding to a Reddit user who claimed to be a Google executive involved in firing Damore.
“I was involved in the internal decisions involving James Damore’s memo, and it’s terrible what we did to him,” a user identifying themselves as TiredOfLying4Google claimed. The user went on to lay out the plan Google constructed to fire Damore without having to face too much backlash.
“We needed to make an example of Damore,” TiredOfLying4Google noted. “Looking for some excuse to fire him, we spied on his phone and computer. We didn’t find anything, although our spying probably made his devices unusably slow, preventing him from organizing support within the company.” The user created the Reddit account in December, according to their profile.
Damore, for his part, appeared to confirm at least parts of TiredOfLying4Google’s story, particularly some of the language the latter used to explain their role at Google. (RELATED: Google’s Secret Chinese Censorship Project Effectively Ends After Employees Revolted)
“I was one of about 100 employees that knew about Dragonfly,” he said in the reply. “I also did report several legal issues in Search that they probably haven’t fixed. My phone and computer were also extremely slow after the document went viral.” Other Redditers pointed out that Damore talked about his phone problems during a 2017 episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience.”
Damore was fired in 2017 for internally publishing a memo outlining his views on gender differences and how they affect females in the tech industry. The memo, which was leaked to the media, also described Damore’s view that there is a lack of freedom to express personal opinions at Google. He claimed that his association with Dragonfly was not public knowledge.
Google employees working on Dragonfly used data from 265.com, a Chinese-language web directory service widely considered China’s most-used homepage. The service provides Chinese visitors with news updates and information about financial markets, among other resources. It also allows Chinese citizens to search for websites, images and videos.
The company uses 265.com as a type of clearinghouse for market research, storing information about Chinese users’ searches before sending them along to Baidu, a popular search engine in China and one of Google’s biggest competitors. American companies must share technology and resources with Chinese companies if they wish to do business in China.
Other major Silicon Valley companies have been required to use similar techniques to gain a foothold in the communist nation.
Tesla and General Motors are among 200 companies transmitting position information and other data to government-backed monitoring centers in China, the Associated Press reported in November. The information is regularly cobbled and delivered without citizen’s knowledge.
Jennifer Kaiser, a spokeswoman for Google, refused to comment on Damore’s claims or those made by TiredOfLying4Google, but she did direct The Daily Caller News Foundation to past statements Google made regarding the lawsuit. Neither Damore nor TiredOfLying4Google have responded to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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