Plea to Google engineers to oppose Russian censorship
Google has started scrubbing its search engine to comply with Russian censorship laws. Under these laws, information that the Russian government arbitrarily considers “undesirable” may be censored. I implore Google engineers to oppose this decision.
I’m a software engineer at Apple in Cupertino. I was born in a provincial city in Russia, where people have no hope, and die of alcoholism in their 50s. Putin has been President since I’ve been old enough to know what the word means, and I’m 30 now. I can’t ever return to my homeland — I’ll explain why in a moment.
In Russia, all of the media is either owned or harshly controlled by the government: TV networks, radio stations, newsletters, advertisement agencies, etc. They all impose a relentless stream of Putin regime propaganda upon my poor, oppressed, degraded nation. My people are told that “Russia is endangered by its enemies,” and “enemies of Russia” include “the gays and the lesbians” who will “molest the children”, everyone who dislikes Putin, and the “dangerous cult”of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who should all be “locked up”.
There is only one medium with which my fellow Russians can raise themselves out of ignorance: the Internet.
It is the only way they can find out that gay people are humans, not monsters who deserve to be rounded up in Chechnya, tortured until they give up the phone numbers of all gay people they know, placed in concentration camp by the hundreds, then quietly executed with no trial.
It is the only way they can find out that there are political prisoners in Russia, boys and girls who spend their youths in prison — just like I did when I was 18 years old — for protesting on the streets with banners that say only, “Putin, resign!”, or only for reposting a picture (this is why I cannot return).
It is the only way they can find out that their country has been stolen from them by Putin and his fellow oligarchs, that all official “unions” are colluding with company owners against the workers, and that independent union organizers are routinely beaten up and imprisoned.
It is the only way they can know the extent to which Putin has transferred the wealth of my country to his corrupt friends, at the expense of ordinary Russians. How else can my people discover that Putin’s regime stole our present and our future; that the regime’s yachts, football clubs, and palaces in every corner of Europe and the United States are balanced by the poverty and the misery of Russians doomed to live in grayness, to die without proper medical care?
The Internet is the only way for Russians to learn about the assassinations — oh, so many assassinations, the way too many assassinations — of the best sons and daughters of Russia: her journalists, political, human rights, and environmental activists, whistleblowers, human rights lawyers, and businessmen, all of them guilty of opposing Putin. Assassination, torture, and imprisonment left my poor nation humiliated, blind, deaf, stripped and beheaded, and left each of my old friends with holes in our hearts.
I plea to my fellow engineers at Google to oppose Google’s complacency with Russian Federation political censorship, just like they successfully opposed Project Dragonfly and Project Maven — for the freedom and the very lives of my people.