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USA: Former senior Google employee claims he was pushed out after advocating for a company human rights policy; incl. company comment

Author: Nitaha Tiku, Washington Post, Published on: 2 January 2020

"A top Google exec pushed the company to commit to human rights. Then Google pushed him out, he says," 2 Jan 2020

Google tasked Ross LaJeunesse with executing its plan to protect human rights in China, after Google announced a decade ago it would stop censoring search results there to safeguard security and free speech.... [LaJeunesse] devised a human rights program to formalize Google’s principles supporting free expression and privacy. He... is alleging that Google pushed him out for it in April... “I didn’t change. Google changed,” [said] LaJeunesse... “Don’t be evil” used to top the company’s mission statement. “Now when I think about ‘Don’t be evil,’ it’s been relegated to a footnote in the company’s statements.”... LaJeunesse modeled his human rights program on the way Google approached privacy and security issues... in functions such as supply chain, policy, and ethics and compliance, to... integrate, coordinate and prioritize human rights risk assessment... “We have an unwavering commitment to supporting human rights organizations and efforts,” said Google spokeswoman Jenn Kaiser, who said LaJeunesse’s departure was due to a “reorganization of our policy team.”

“It’s extremely important for people like Ross, who are making arguments for human rights inside the company, to have the support of the company itself — from the senior leadership on down.”... said David Kaye, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression... Workers at major tech companies including Google, Amazon and Microsoft have increasingly raised ethical concerns as the products they helped develop have been put to use in controversial military applications or as a surveillance tool for law enforcement and repressive regimes... Several activist Google workers claim they were unfairly terminated recently because Google wanted to extinguish their dissent.

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Related companies: Alphabet Google (part of Alphabet)