Former International Relations Head at Google, Ross Lajueness, says that the company had never intended to incorporate human rights principles into its business and corporate decisions. In a post on Medium, Lajueness wrote that he came to this realisation after working at the company for 11 years.
Lajueness also said that Google sidelined him when they started building Dragonfly, a censored search engine meant for China. Reports had emerged last year that Google was working on a secret project, developing a search engine that worked under China's censorship laws. The company’s vice president of public policy, Karan Bhatia, had confirmed in a US Senate hearing in July this year that the Dragonfly project had been abandoned.
Further, in his post on Twitter, Lajueness said that he also found other human rights violations in the company’s work culture, which he reported to the human resources (HR) team. That in turn led the company to fire Lajeunesse, he wrote.
“Standing up for women, for the LGBTQ community, for colleagues of color, and for human rights — had cost me my career," he wrote.
“Some will say that Google was always a bad corporate actor, with less than transparent privacy practices. But there is a significant difference between serving ads based on a Google search and working with the Chinese government on artificial intelligence or hosting the applications of the Saudi government, including Absher, an application that allows men to track and control the movement of their female family members," Lajueness wrote, explaining what changed in Google over his time in the company.
He also said founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s disengagement from the company’s day-to-day affairs was a reason for the change. While Brin and Page had disengaged earlier, they both stepped down from their roles as President and Chief Executive, respectively, of Alphabet — Google’s parent company — last month.
According to Lajueness, the company pursued business endeavours in countries like China and Saudi Arabia, while finding a new ways to say no to his efforts for “the adoption of a company-wide, formal Human Rights Program that would publicly commit Google to adhere to human rights principles found in the UN Declaration of Human Rights."
Lajuenesse worked at Google from 2008 to May last year, and is currently campaigning for a United States (US) senate seat, according to a BBC report.