A group of Republican and Democratic senators slammed Alphabet Inc.’s Google Friday over reports it is developing a censored version of its search engine for the Chinese market.
China critic Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, was joined by five other lawmakers on a letter to Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai on Friday demanding answers about the proposed “Dragonfly" search engine.
“If true, this reported plan is deeply troubling and risks making Google complicit in human rights abuses related to China’s rigorous censorship regime," the letter says. “It is a coup for the Chinese government and Communist Party to force Google, the biggest search engine in the world, to comply with their onerous censorship requirements, and sets a worrying precedent for other companies seeking to do business in China without compromising their core values."
The letter demands details on Google’s push into China, a market it abandoned in 2010 in protest of China’s human rights violations.
Also signing the letter are Republicans Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Cory Gardner of Colorado and Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
Rubio has emerged as a strident critic of China. He voted this week against the annual defense policy bill because it didn’t include stringent punishment of Chinese telecommunication firm ZTE Corp. for violating U.S. sanctions by selling technology to Iran and North Korea.
“We appreciate your prompt reply to this inquiry, including any views that you are prepared to share as to how this reported development can be reconciled with Google’s unofficial motto, ‘Don’t be evil,’" the letter concludes.
Google said in response to the letter that it declines to comment on “speculation about future plans."