concerns about online censorship, Google is secretly working on a search
engine product for China with built-in censorship features.
is going on?
Google CEO Sundar
Pichai told employees on Thursday that the company is working on a
censorship called Dragonfly and it is still in an “exploratory” stage,
The Intercept reported.
has stunned many people, including the majority of Google’s 88,000
employees. Only about several hundred of them were aware of the project,
the report stated.
Pichai pledged to
be more transparent with employees as plans are closer to being
finalized, the news outlet reported.
characterization of Dragonfly as an “exploratory” project is contrary to
internal Google documents and statements by senior Google officials. The
Intercept has seen copies of the documents, it reported.
launched a censored search engine project in China in 2006. But in March
of 2010, Google pulled the service out of country due to the Chinese
government’s growing “efforts to limit free speech, block websites, and
hack Google’s computer systems,” the report stated.
Google search engine chief Ben Gomes told select staffers working on the
project that they should get complete Dragonfly and have it ready to be
deployed as quickly as possible, according to the report.
The project is
reportedly facing barriers due to the ongoing trade war between the U.S.
and China. The trade war has hindered Google’s negotiations with Beijing
officials, who must sign off on the “censored search platform.”
has made repeated trips to China to discuss the project with some of the
country’s top Communist leaders.
well beyond the ‘exploratory’ stage,” Intercept reporter Ryan Gallagher
confirmation of the project comes at a time of growing concerns about
censorship of selected accounts on social media platforms. Primarily,
conservative voices are being excluded.
rights groups are asking Google to cancel Dragonfly project. And a
bipartisan group of six U.S. senators are calling it “deeply
giant’s employees aren’t happy about it, either. They want an
ombudsperson to oversee “urgent moral and ethical issues” raised by the
Google has yet to
publicly issue a statement about Dragonfly and has not responded to
questions from The Intercept, the news outlet stated.
questions need to be answered?
report includes a list of 13 more questions it wants Google to answer.
Two of the
extended questions on the list are:
operating in China are required by law to turn over data to security
agencies upon request. How will Google safeguard its Chinese users’
data from the Communist Party regime, which routinely targets people —
including human rights activists and journalists — who express
criticism of its orthodoxies? How will Google ensure that information
about people’s search queries are not monitored by the Chinese state?
Google’s stated central
mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it
universally accessible and useful.” The company’s informal motto is
“don’t be evil.” Google has since its early years maintained a list of
“10 things” that represent foundational values for the company. One of
these values is: “You can make money without doing evil.” Another is:
“Democracy on the web works.” Can Google explain how these values are
consistent with its plan to launch a censored search engine in China,
which will limit people’s access to information about subjects such as
human rights, democracy, and peaceful protest?