Google’s once-secret censored Chinese search engine project, Project Dragonfly, is now increasingly out in the open. Here are ten important facts about Google’s partnership with the authoritarian communist government of China.
The search engine will blacklist terms and searches about human rights, democracy, and protest.
Project Dragonfly will aid the Chinese government by blacklisting certain search terms and websites related to human rights, democracy, and peaceful protest.
According to the Intercept, Project Dragonfly “will comply with the country’s strict censorship laws, restricting access to content that Xi Jinping’s Communist Party regime deems unfavorable.”
“The Chinese government blocks information on the internet about political opponents, free speech, sex, news, and academic studies. It bans websites about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, for instance, and references to ‘anticommunism’ and ‘dissidents.’,” explained the Intercept. “Mentions of books that negatively portray authoritarian governments, like George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, have been prohibited on Weibo, a Chinese social media website. The country also censors popular Western social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as American news organizations such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.”
Project Dragonfly will link searches to personal phone numbers, eroding anonymity for dissidents.
Searches made on Google’s Chinese search engine will not only be censored, but also tracked, with mobile searches linked to the personal phone numbers of those searching. The vast majority of Internet activity in China is done with smartphones.
“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,” reported the Intercept. “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.”
Google employees working on Project Dragonfly were ordered to “keep quiet” about it, “deflect questions,” and cover paper trails.
Google didn’t want too many people to know about the details of Project Dragonfly, and ordered employees working on it to “keep quiet” and “deflect questions.”
“We were told to avoid referencing it around our team members, and if they ask, to deflect questions,” claimed an anonymous source to the Intercept.
Employees were also reportedly ordered to “delete a memo revealing confidential details” about the project.
Google claimed the project is “not close” to being finished, but sources at Google claim this is false.
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