According to online news site The Intercept, more than 1,000 employees of Google have signed a letter demanding that the company come clean about an alleged secretive search engine it is building for use in China.
However, Pichai did hint at doing more in the country which is infamous for its restrictive internet policies.
At one point, Pichai said the company is not close to launching a search product in China, according to another person who attended the meeting.
Reports surfaced two weeks ago that Google was developing a project, called Dragonfly, to launch a mobile search app that would censor results in compliance with the Chinese government. "I think if we were to do our mission well, I think we have to think seriously about how we do more in China", he added, according to Bloomberg.
The letter is similar to one thousands of employees had signed in protest of Project Maven, a United States military contract that Google decided in June not to renew.
It is not the first time Google employees have spoken out against the company's decisions.
Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly and the remarks at the company meeting are the first time the project has been mentioned since details about it were leaked.
"That the decision to build Dragonfly was made in secret, and progressed even with the AI Principles in place makes clear that the Principles alone are not enough", it continues.
Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects that raise substantial ethical questions. "He noted the company guards information on some projects where sharing too early can 'cause issues". It left in 2010 over an escalating dispute with regulators that was capped by what security researchers identified as state-sponsored cyber-attacks against Google and other large US firms.
In their letter, which was shared with various media organisations, they also argue it would violate the "don't be evil" clause in Google's code of conduct.
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