Alphabet shareholder meeting draws protesters over antitrust and human rights

CNET | 6/19/2019 | Richard Nieva
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Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Over the past year, Google has weathered scandals over its work in China and handling of sexual harassment allegations. And it's endured protests from its own workers, who have grown disillusioned with company management.

Controversies - View - Wednesday - Parent - Company

Those controversies were in full view Wednesday during parent company Alphabet's annual shareholder meeting, which drew protesters and included proposals from shareholders seeking to address several issues. The meeting is in Sunnyvale, California.

One proposal asked the company to provide a report on sexual harassment. The report could include the total amount of money the company pays out for settlements, as well as the number of times people were fired or disciplined for violating sexual harassment policies, according to a proxy statement filed with the SEC.

Proposal - Dragonfly - Project - Market - China

Another proposal condemned Dragonfly, a project reportedly aimed at the market in China, which Google retreated from in 2010. The project is reported to involve a censored search product for China. Shareholders asked the company to prepare a "human rights impact assessment" that would highlight possible negative outcomes of the project, including the risks of censorship, and the possible endangering of journalists and dissidents.

Alphabet Board Chairman John Hennessy opened the meeting by reflecting on Google's mission to provide information to the world. "Of course this comes with a deep and growing responsibility to ensure the technology we create benefits society as a whole," he said. "We are committed to supporting our users, our employees and our shareholders by always acting responsibly, inclusively and fairly."

Alphabet - Meeting - Silicon - Valley - Giants

Alphabet's annual meeting comes as Silicon Valley giants draw intense scrutiny for their outsize scale and power. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, has made it a key part of her platform to break up the big tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Amazon. Last month, Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder, also...
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