Google's former head of International Relations, Ross LaJeunesse left the company in April 2019. Now, he's telling his side of the story, and why he left the search giant a decade after joining it.
The job of LaJeunesse was to fight for and defend human rights in China. This started after Google announced it would stop censoring search results in the country, to safeguard security and free speech, nearly a decade ago.
As you might expect, LaJeunesse took that mission to heart. He devised a human rights program to formalize Google's principles in supporting free expression and privacy. He was lobbying for this internally starting in 2017.
For some context, this was around the time that Google was exploring a return to the Chinese market. After it had decided to leave China in 2010, due to its censorship laws.
LaJeunesse alleges that Google pushed him out in April
LaJeunesse shared a letter today, which stated that after 11 years of working to protect human rights in China, Google told him that there was no longer a job for him. This was supposedly due to a "reorganization" at Google.
He is also claiming that Google has strayed away from its "don't be evil" motto.
Though, he is not the first former or current Googler to say that about the company.
Google continually blocked LaJeunesse from getting his human rights program off the ground. And even kept him out of meetings about Project Dragonfly – the censored search engine that Google was working on, for China.
Why is LaJeunesse making this public now?
Some might say that LaJeunesse is looking for attention. And that's because he has announced that he is running for a Senate seat in Maine. Challenging four-term Republican Senator Susan Collins for her seat. It's going to be an uphill battle for LaJeunesse, since Collins has represented Maine on Capitol Hill since 1997.
In a tweet today, in which LaJeunesse was resharing The Washington Post's article on this subject, he stated that "this story is bigger than me, and it's bigger than Google. Greed and abuse of power have not only infected American companies like Google, they've infected Washington too. And it's time to stop it."
LaJeunesse is not wrong there. Greed and abuse of power is what drives Washington these days. But to go from being a top executive at Google, to running for Senate, is a pretty big change. However, it also shows that LaJeunesse means business, in defending human rights. Not just in the US but in other countries around the world too.