Reuters reported this month, the app is a bid to win approval from Beijing to provide a mobile search engine in China.
Outrage stems both from the nature of Dragonfly - a product that some employees feel violates the AI Principles - and that many employees only learned about the search product's existence from news reports, rather than their own bosses. The absence of a gathering - the result of a regularly scheduled break in the summer, according to company spokesman Rob Shilkin - led to fears among employees that leadership was becoming less transparent following several controversies over Google's government work. In 2010, the world's most popular search engine pulled out of the country, specifically citing government censorship as the impetus.
Hundreds of Google employees have submitted a letter to its management demanding "more transparency and a commitment to clear and open processes" among other things with respect to Google's Dragonfly project. Google spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
This isn't the first time Google's been in hot water with its employees; back in April, thousands of staff rallied against a programme which developed AI for U.S. military drones.
The multinational tech company withdrew its search engine from China eight years ago due to censorship and hacking.
Greg Sandoval/Business InsiderTyler Breisacher quit his software development job at Google as part of a protest against the company's work building AI tools for the military.
Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly, and their remarks at the company-wide meeting marked their first about the project since details about it were leaked.
The employees also complained that they do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about their work, projects and employment.
Some Google employees would like to hear Brin and cofounder Larry Page explain, but management has said nothing.
Work on Dragonfly, which has been in progress since spring of previous year, was accelerated after Google's CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly had a meeting with a top Chinese government official.