This week, I have really felt the strength and power we can bring to bear when we all work together, and amplify the voices of workers and communities struggling against unbridled corporate power. We moved Google! The global tech giant has been forced to scrap its plans for a censored, spying search engine in China.

People said it would be impossible to stop Google from launching its dodgy search engine in China. And it probably would have been, without Google employees willing to blow the whistle on the bosses, responding to the calls for help from Tibetan, Uyghur and Chinese rights activists -- and tens of thousands of people like you and me all over the world piling on in the last six months.

More than 85,000 of us signed a petition demanding that Google drops dragonfly, and hundreds of us sent tweets that highlighted Google’s willingness to trample over human rights. Thousands of us also emailed both Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking him to come clean on Dragonfly, and our pension funds asking them to support our proposal to make google more accountable at the AGM.

But Google bosses stopped short of completely ruling out future collaboration with a government of... China that insists on a censored internet and mass cybersurveillance. Which is exactly why four SumOfUs members, who own shares in Google’s parent company Alphabet, submitted a shareholder proposal to break up the company and make it easier to hold its managers to account.

Our proposal at Google’s annual shareholder meeting this week was presented by Sonamtso, from Students for a Free Tibet, who held the room with her powerful speech, explaining why frontline communities are so damaged by Google’s business model of releasing new tech and fixing the problems it creates later.

Listen to Sonamsto’s moving words here.

five protesters carrying placards and Tibetan flags overlaid with a play button

Or listen on facebook here.

SumOfUs members were not the only ones challenging Google over its bad behaviour. There were 11 proposals on human rights, workers rights, civil rights, sexual harassment, the spread of harmful content and project Dragonfly brought by concerned shareholders and disrguntled Google employees.

With 51% of voting shares owned by just two men -- co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who shockingly didn’t even attend the meeting -- Google shot down all of them.

But Google’s bosses who attended the AGM were under no illusions that all was well, with the noisy protests outside -- including from our friends at Students for a Free Tibet -- clearly heard by everyone in the auditorium. And we were all over the papers too.

large diverse crowd of protesters with a variety of placards

Now we have to finish the job and force Google -- and Silicon Valley giants like it -- to make the changes it needs to protect all of our rights.

Making a monthly donation is a great way of making sure we can plan the next phase of the campaign. Can you chip in a few coins a month to help keep the fight against tech giants’ power going?

Over the past 6 months, I’ve had the honour and privilege of working with Tibetan, Uyghur and Chinese rights activists, who have been so generous in sharing their stories.

In the run up to Google’s AGM, we invited journalists and shareholders to a virtual press conference so they could learn more about the harm Google is doing. The broadcast has already been watched over 8,000 times -- have you tuned in yet?

screenshot of six people on a video call overlaid with a play button

We still have work to do, and we will! But for now we should celebrate our success in forcing Google to put protecting people from harm ahead of corporate profits. Thank you, A, for being a part of it.

Thanks for all that you do,
Sondhya, Eoin and the team at SumOfUs

P.S: Making a monthly donation is a great way of making sure we’re ready to launch into action at a moment’s notice -- whether it’s fighting tech giants like Google trampling over our rights or companies like Pepsi partnering with the worst palm oil villains. Can you chip in a few coins a month to help keep the fight against corporate giants’ power going?

More information:

Google shareholders urge company to break itself up before regulators do, The Independent, 20 June 2019
Alphabet shareholder meeting draws protests over antitrust, human rights, CNet, 19 June 2019
Activists urge Google to break up before regulators force it to, Reuters, 19 June 2019

SumOfUs is a community of people from around the world committed to curbing the growing power of corporations. We want to buy from, work for and invest in companies that respect the environment, treat their workers well and respect democracy. And we’re not afraid to stand up to them when they don’t.

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