Google has created a prototype search engine for China that would blacklist terms associated with dissent and alert the government whenever any citizen attempted to search for those terms.
This news may have been published this past weekend, but the concerns over Google and other tech giants’ relationship with China has been cause for concern for more than a decade.
Twelve years ago, in 2006, a congressional hearing on the Internet in China took major tech companies — Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Cisco — to task for partnering with Beijing in censoring its citizens.
Then-Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), the only Holocaust survivor to ever serve in Congress, railed against the companies in his opening statements, in what now sounds like an eerie forecast of what would only become worse.
“Instead of using their power and creativity to bring openness and free speech to China, they have caved in to Beijing’s outrageous but predictable demands simply for the sake of profits,” Lantos said. “These captains of industry should have been developing new technologies to bypass the sickening censorship of government and repugnant barriers to the Internet. Instead, they enthusiastically volunteered for the Chinese censorship brigade.” – READ MORE
A prototype of Google’s censored search engine for China links users’ searches to their personal phone numbers, “thus making it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people’s queries,” reports The Intercept.
The search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, revolves around the Android platform and is designed to remove content deemed by government officials to be sensitive or offensive – such as information about protests, free speech, political dissidents, democracy and human rights violations.
Sources familiar with the project said that prototypes of the search engine linked the search app on a user’s Android smartphone with their phone number. This means individual people’s searches could be easily tracked – and any user seeking out information banned by the government could potentially be at risk of interrogation or detention if security agencies were to obtain the search records from Google.
the search platform also appeared to have been tailored to replace weather and air pollution data with information provided directly by an unnamed source in Beijing. The Chinese government has a record of manipulating details about pollution in the country’s cities. One Google source said the company had built a system, integrated as part of Dragonfly, that was “essentially hardcoded to force their data.” –The Intercept
“This is very problematic from a privacy point of view, because it would allow far more detailed tracking and profiling of people’s behavior,” says Human Rights Watch senior internet research Cynthia Wong. “Linking searches to a phone number would make it much harder for people to avoid the kind of overreaching government surveillance that is pervasive in China.”- READ MORE