Former Google employee launches tech project to keep the industry ethical

Former Google employee launches tech project to keep the industry ethical
Employees of tech companies should have the right to know when they are working on projects they may find ethically unacceptable, a former Google employee has told The Guardian.

In 2018, Jack Poulson hit headlines after he resigned from his job at Google over the company’s then plan to build a censorship for the Chinese search market. Now, he wants to make sure that other tech workers can fight for what’s right without having to put their livelihood on the line.

Poulson has started Tech Inquiry, a non-profit that aims to make it easier for coders with a conscience to speak out inside their companies when they feel ethical boundaries are being crossed.

He is also pushing for greater transparency to prevent workers simply being tricked into doing work that they would never take on voluntarily.

“I believe tech workers need informed consent about when their work may lead to loss of life or suppression of human rights or freedoms,” Poulson told the Guardian in London, where he is due to speak at the Open Rights Group’s annual conference on data and democracy on Saturday. “How is it that we help tech workers who saw something go wrong? How is it that we ensure they have a trusted avenue, somewhere to reach out, that isn’t necessarily going straight to a journalist?”

The aim of his project is to harness the growing wave of employee discontent that has spread across Silicon Valley, and provide workers with the tools they need to stand up to their bosses and the information they need to know when that pushback is necessary.