News of Google’s China plans to become a much larger share of the Chinese internet market has people furious, especially because an engine code-named Dragonfly may be included that would censor search contents, Business Insider reports.
The Intercept got wind of the plan after reviewing leaked documents, discovering that the plans were moving so far ahead that the new service could already begin next year.
Free speech and internet privacy advocates all over spoke out against these plans. One joint letter warned that such a search engine and control by Google would be “an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights.”
Business Insider reports that “six US senators, led by Marco Rubio and Mark Warner, sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai demanding answers to a series of queries about the company’s intentions. Last week, PEN America sent a detailed letter to Google executives spelling out specific human rights issues and subjects that, per Chinese censorship rules, would be treated repressively and deceptively by any information platform operating in the country.”
Silicon Valley is known to generally be supportive of privacy from the government, so it wasn’t surprising to see over 1,400 Google employees sign a letter addressing concerns to management that the employees had over the news, saying the revelations “raise urgent moral and ethical issues” that should require tighter ethical and transparency standards.
The Intercept also reported about how Google and China have been working together to tie together searches on Google with the phone numbers belonging to the people who typed in those search queries. This revelation gives insight into how the Chinese government could better monitor people it wants to try suppressing.
The Washington Times details the Dragonfly, the code name for the new search engine, was designed for Android devices.
The search engine would remove information that the Chinese government deems sensitive, like content regarding political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and protests, in something called a censorship blacklist.