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posted by mrpg on Friday August 03 2018, @12:30AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the censorship dept.

Google is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest, The Intercept can reveal.

The project – code-named Dragonfly – has been underway since spring of last year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official, according to internal Google documents and people familiar with the plans.

Teams of programmers and engineers at Google have created a custom Android app, different versions of which have been named "Maotai" and "Longfei." The app has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government; the finalized version could be launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from Chinese officials.

Or does it not? China denies google's plans for a censored version

[...] Chinese state-owned Securities Times, however, said reports of the return of Google's search engine to China were not true, citing information from "relevant departments".

But a Google employee familiar with the censored version of the search engine confirmed to Reuters that the project was alive and genuine.

On an internal message board, the employee wrote: "In my opinion, it is just as bad as the leak article mentions."


Original Submission

Related Stories

"Senior Google Scientist" Resigns over Chinese Search Engine Censorship Project 50 comments

Senior Google Scientist Resigns Over "Forfeiture of Our Values" in China

A senior Google research scientist has quit the company in protest over its plan to launch a censored version of its search engine in China.

Jack Poulson worked for Google's research and machine intelligence department, where he was focused on improving the accuracy of the company's search systems. In early August, Poulson raised concerns with his managers at Google after The Intercept revealed that the internet giant was secretly developing a Chinese search app for Android devices. The search system, code-named Dragonfly, was designed to remove content that China's authoritarian government views as sensitive, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.

After entering into discussions with his bosses, Poulson decided in mid-August that he could no longer work for Google. He tendered his resignation and his last day at the company was August 31.

He told The Intercept in an interview that he believes he is one of about five of the company's employees to resign over Dragonfly. He felt it was his "ethical responsibility to resign in protest of the forfeiture of our public human rights commitments," he said.

Poulson, who was previously an assistant professor at Stanford University's department of mathematics, said he believed that the China plan had violated Google's artificial intelligence principles, which state that the company will not design or deploy technologies "whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights."

Politics: Google CEO Sundar Pichai Testifies before the U.S. Congress 61 comments

Google's Sundar Pichai was grilled on privacy, data collection, and China during congressional hearing

Google's CEO testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday where lawmakers grilled him on a wide range of issues, including potential political bias on its platforms, its plans for a censored search app in China and its privacy practices.

This is the first time Pichai has appeared before Congress since Google declined to send him or Alphabet CEO Larry Page to a hearing on foreign election meddling earlier this year. That slight sparked anger among senators who portrayed Google as trying to skirt scrutiny.

[...] Tuesday's hearing was titled "Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use, and Filtering Practices" and many representatives posed questions on whether or not Google's search results were biased against conservative points of view.

[...] Another topic that came up multiple times was Google's plan to launch a censored search engine in China. The Intercept first reported details of the project over the summer, which would block search results for queries that the Chinese government deemed sensitive, like "human rights" and "student protest" and link users' searches to their personal phone numbers. [...] "Right now, we have no plans to launch search in China," Pichai answered, adding that access to information is "an important human right."

Also at Bloomberg and The Hill.

See also: Sundar Pichai had to explain to Congress why Googling 'idiot' turns up pictures of Trump
Google CEO admits company must better address the spread of conspiracy theories on YouTube
Alex Jones, Roger Stone crash Google CEO hearing
Monopoly man watches disapprovingly as Congress yells at Google's CEO

Previously: Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal
Uproar at Google after News of Censored China Search App Breaks
"Senior Google Scientist" Resigns over Chinese Search Engine Censorship Project
Google Suppresses Internal Memo About China Censorship; Eric Schmidt Predicts Internet Split
Leaked Transcript Contradicts Google's Denials About Censored Chinese Search Engine
Senators Demand Answers About Google+ Breach; Project Dragonfly Undermines Google's Neutrality


Original Submission

Google Suppresses Internal Memo About China Censorship; Eric Schmidt Predicts Internet Split 41 comments

Google has been aggressively suppressing an internal memo that shared details of Dragonfly, a censored search engine for China that would also track users:

Google bosses have forced employees to delete a confidential memo circulating inside the company that revealed explosive details about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China, The Intercept has learned. The memo, authored by a Google engineer who was asked to work on the project, disclosed that the search system, codenamed Dragonfly, would require users to log in to perform searches, track their location — and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner who would have "unilateral access" to the data.

The memo was shared earlier this month among a group of Google employees who have been organizing internal protests over the censored search system, which has been designed to remove content that China's authoritarian Communist Party regime views as sensitive, such as information about democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.

According to three sources familiar with the incident, Google leadership discovered the memo and were furious that secret details about the China censorship were being passed between employees who were not supposed to have any knowledge about it. Subsequently, Google human resources personnel emailed employees who were believed to have accessed or saved copies of the memo and ordered them to immediately delete it from their computers. Emails demanding deletion of the memo contained "pixel trackers" that notified human resource managers when their messages had been read, recipients determined.

[...] Google reportedly maintains an aggressive security and investigation team known as "stopleaks," which is dedicated to preventing unauthorized disclosures. The team is also said to monitor internal discussions. Internal security efforts at Google have ramped up this year as employees have raised ethical concerns around a range of new company projects. Following the revelation by Gizmodo and The Intercept that Google had quietly begun work on a contract with the military last year, known as Project Maven, to develop automated image recognition systems for drone warfare, the communications team moved swiftly to monitor employee activity. The "stopleaks" team, which coordinates with the internal Google communications department, even began monitoring an internal image board used to post messages based on internet memes, according to one former Google employee, for signs of employee sentiment around the Project Maven contract.

Eric Schmidt has predicted that there will be two distinct "Internets" within the decade, with one led by China:

Leaked Transcript Contradicts Google's Denials About Censored Chinese Search Engine 31 comments

Leaked Transcript of Private Meeting Contradicts Google's Official Story on China

"We have to be focused on what we want to enable," said Ben Gomes, Google's search engine chief. "And then when the opening happens, we are ready for it." It was Wednesday, July 18, and Gomes was addressing a team of Google employees who were working on a secretive project to develop a censored search engine for China, which would blacklist phrases like "human rights," "student protest," and "Nobel Prize."

"You have taken on something extremely important to the company," Gomes declared, according to a transcript of his comments obtained by The Intercept. "I have to admit it has been a difficult journey. But I do think a very important and worthwhile one. And I wish ourselves the best of luck in actually reaching our destination as soon as possible." [...] Gomes, who joined Google in 1999 and is one of the key engineers behind the company's search engine, said he hoped the censored Chinese version of the platform could be launched within six and nine months, but it could be sooner. "This is a world none of us have ever lived in before," he said. "So I feel like we shouldn't put too much definite into the timeline."

[...] Google has refused to answer questions or concerns about Dragonfly. On Sept. 26, a Google executive faced public questions on the censorship plan for the first time. Keith Enright told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that there "is a Project Dragonfly," but said "we are not close to launching a product in China." When pressed to give specific details, Enright refused, saying that he was "not clear on the contours of what is in scope or out of scope for that project."

Senior executives at Google directly involved in building the censorship system have largely avoided any public scrutiny. But on Sept. 23, Gomes briefly addressed Dragonfly when confronted by a BBC reporter at an event celebrating Google's 20th anniversary. "Right now, all we've done is some exploration," Gomes told the reporter, "but since we don't have any plans to launch something, there's nothing much I can say about it." Gomes' statement kept with the company's official line. But it flatly contradicted what he had privately told Google employees who were working on Dragonfly — which disturbed some of them. One Google source told The Intercept Gomes's comments to the BBC were "bullshit."

Here's an article written by Dave Lee, the BBC reporter that Ben Gomes misled.

Previously: Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal
Uproar at Google after News of Censored China Search App Breaks
"Senior Google Scientist" Resigns over Chinese Search Engine Censorship Project
Google Suppresses Internal Memo About China Censorship; Eric Schmidt Predicts Internet Split


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Fluffeh on Friday August 03 2018, @12:42AM (6 children)

    by Fluffeh (954) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 03 2018, @12:42AM (#716511) Journal

    So if you want to "Do No Evil" (and I get that it is fading from Google - that's another discussion) but what is worse?

    => Don't provide a service at all - because it isn't all that you want it to be and you don't agree with the "Power's that be" etc.

    => Provide a lesser service - strip some results out, but potentially still provide a better service then what is currently available.

    I've tried to make it an even question - I've got an opinion, but I'm curious what the other 'Lentils think.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @01:06AM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @01:06AM (#716516)

      Different countries have different laws (written or otherwise) and Google been censoring stuff to accommodate those laws for years. A very partial list can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_by_Google [wikipedia.org]

      But that's really just the tip of the iceberg. There are regional equivalents to DMCA in many other countries that the local governments use to blacklist certain content knowing no abroad would bother changeling. This way, Google can maintain the position they're only enforcing copyright laws.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @02:07AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @02:07AM (#716527)

        Don't care what weasel words you use, they are still supporting a corrupt and over reaching government. I know someone in Alphabet took a business ethics course so they can't feign ignorance.

        • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @04:59AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @04:59AM (#716561)

          Don't care what weasel words you use, they are still supporting a corrupt and over reaching government

          And? Is it for Google to refuse supporting them? Is that you have in mind?
          How about Google no longer supporting the corrupt and overreaching US government? Like, I don't know, get out of that market and stop paying taxes?

        • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Friday August 03 2018, @07:00PM

          by darkfeline (1030) on Friday August 03 2018, @07:00PM (#716891) Homepage

          Unless you live on unclaimed land and don't pay taxes, you are supporting a corrupt and overreaching government. So am I, and everyone else here. You have a few options:

          1. Pack your bags and leave society.
          2. Revolution.
          3. Try to change the system from within.

          Google isn't really in a position to do 1, and it doesn't have the military might to do 2.

          --
          Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
      • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Friday August 03 2018, @06:01PM

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Friday August 03 2018, @06:01PM (#716827) Journal

        Different countries have different laws (written or otherwise) and Google been censoring stuff to accommodate those laws for years.

        Agreed, thinking this is something NEW Google is doing just demonstrates the blind-spot Americans have for our own accepted censorship. Google has been censoring stuff according to the DMCA for twenty years now.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @11:44AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @11:44AM (#716632)

      Provide the service, provide VPN, proxies, .onion, and say fuck you when they try block shit. Doing nothing while evil occurs is tacit approval of evil.

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @12:43AM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @12:43AM (#716512)

    Has a slur ever been more appropriate?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Azuma Hazuki on Friday August 03 2018, @04:02AM (4 children)

      by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 03 2018, @04:02AM (#716547) Journal

      In most cases, yes, as since I understand it "gook" is a corruption of "megouk," which is a *Vietnamese* cognate of the Mandarin Chinese "mei guo" (the name for the US). God, you suck at this...

      --
      I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @09:12AM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @09:12AM (#716597)

        Pretty sure that was intended. In other words, whoosh!

        • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Friday August 03 2018, @03:44PM (2 children)

          by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 03 2018, @03:44PM (#716763) Journal

          Pretty sure the kind of person who comes in here making gook jokes as an AC has about as much understanding of East Asian phonology and linguistic diffusion as something I'd scrape off the bottom of my shoe.

          --
          I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04 2018, @11:18AM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04 2018, @11:18AM (#717178)

            왜 그렇게 생각해?

            • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Sunday August 05 2018, @01:59PM

              by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 05 2018, @01:59PM (#717508) Journal

              Because, put it this way, the kind of person who says "gook" usually isn't too bright or well-read.

              --
              I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bob_super on Friday August 03 2018, @01:34AM (3 children)

    by bob_super (1357) on Friday August 03 2018, @01:34AM (#716523)

    Car manufacturers selling to Country A need to fit lower bumpers, and for country B, they need a particle filter on the exhaust.
    Business complies with regulation to enter appealing market. News at 11.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @02:59AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @02:59AM (#716532)

      Sure, if you think human rights are the same as car bumpers.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @04:37AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @04:37AM (#716554)
        Companies do not mess with other countries, unless ordered to. Human rights abroad are managed by politicians and diplomats, sometimes by sanctions, blockade and war humanitarian bombings.
      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday August 03 2018, @07:19AM

        by bob_super (1357) on Friday August 03 2018, @07:19AM (#716576)

        Do you believe that having one more search engine to censor is reducing the odds that Chinese people will access information ?

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @01:40AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @01:40AM (#716524)

    Now that they have shown they CAN and WILL squelch speech on command, every government on the planet will demand the same, and if they refuse, they can expect more fines and sanctions.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Friday August 03 2018, @01:50AM (2 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 03 2018, @01:50AM (#716525) Homepage Journal

      This ^

      If Google is willing to cooperate with one government to censor the web, then Google is able to cooperate with other governments. Or, worse, just impose their own brand of censorship, above and beyond any government requirements.

      We've often commented on the algorithms Google uses. My results for any given search don't exactly match another person's results. Most of that is driven by targeted advertising. Some of that seems to be driven by the echo chamber effect. How much of it may be the result of Google exercising censorship powers? How would you even know?

      This seems yet another good reason (maybe the best reason) to use multiple search engines. Don't rely on Google alone.

      --
      Your private safe room in the back of your mind? Trump pooped in it.
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @02:12AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @02:12AM (#716528)

        First they came for the Chinese, but I was not Chinese and I hate them damn reds so I said nothing.

        Then they came for ASIS but they're a bunch of looney religious nuts so I said nothing.

        Then they came for me and there was no one left to cry out.

        THEN I RELOADED MY c-AR!

        and they regretted modding me down. i mean mod down those pinko commies but next thing you know the mods come for you! we're slippin' down that slope.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @03:37AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @03:37AM (#716542)

          We're gonna get you! We're gonna get you! We're gonna get you!

          JOIN US!

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @03:34AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @03:34AM (#716540)

      Meh. If you've been paying attention, you'd know that this was developed for the CIA. China merely gets to be the beta testers. Watch for information about 19th century economists and philosophers along with present-day class and workers' struggles being deindexed as fake news, and not just on their News product.

      Unfortunately, it won't be one of those things that mysteriously go away one day unless we all decide we can no longer give Google/Alphabet our data.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @01:58AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @01:58AM (#716526)

    I remember a few years back, Google would already have its search engine return censored search, then eventually left.
    The money is probably too good to let China away.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by jelizondo on Friday August 03 2018, @06:17AM (1 child)

    by jelizondo (653) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 03 2018, @06:17AM (#716570) Journal

    This is going to be unpopular but the truth always is.

    Take a non-partisan point of view. Google and Facebook are asked to suppress “fake news” in the U.S., China wants to suppress “fake news” too. The only difference is what constitutes, in each country, “fake news”.

    In the U.S. this censorship can be construed as a violation of the right to free speech, that is why the government does openly not order Google and others to suppress the speech, but there is political (and social) pressure to do so.

    But “free speech” is different on different countries.

    • In Germany, any Nazi-related speech is criminal and can lead to jail. Anyone against Germany for violating the right to free speech?
    • Denmark has just passed a law prohibiting women from wearing burqas in public. Anyone against Denmark for forcing women to dress in a way contrary to their religious beliefs, i.e., violating their right to religious freedom?

    Is China violating human rights? Clearly they do. As seen from the U.S. and Europe. Is Germany violating human rights? Yes, from a U.S. perspective. Is Denmark violating human rights? Yes, from a U.S. perspective.

    Until we accept a world-wide governing body, issuing laws for all, human rights are country-specific.

    Now ask yourself, should U.S. businesses spread the U.S. point of view? Should they only pursue profits? Who gets to decide which?

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @07:40AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @07:40AM (#716580)

      In Germany, any Nazi-related speech is criminal and can lead to jail. Anyone against Germany for violating the right to free speech?

      Yes.

      Denmark has just passed a law prohibiting women from wearing burqas in public. Anyone against Denmark for forcing women to dress in a way contrary to their religious beliefs, i.e., violating their right to religious freedom?

      Yes.

      Now ask yourself, should U.S. businesses spread the U.S. point of view?

      Which point of view? The US government does not respect freedom of speech either, though it's not as bad as other countries.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @10:32AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03 2018, @10:32AM (#716607)

    And where is the employee outcry about this? Where are the workers ready to walk out in defense of free speech?

    Anybody?

    But the Pentagon contract was evil because it supported an imperialist colonial regime?

    Two-faced Google fucks deserve to have their lunch eaten by Baidu.

    • (Score: 2) by looorg on Friday August 03 2018, @01:42PM

      by looorg (578) on Friday August 03 2018, @01:42PM (#716682)

      This was my primary question to, I don't really care if Google wants to build a great-firewall-of-china-approved search engine or not -- after all they are already censoring information in most countries due to various local laws / right to be forgotten etc.

      I was wondering where the staff uproar is or was. So working for the US Government or the Pentagon or the Military Industrial Complex are EVIL and giant no-no:s but working for one of those most repressive governments in the world is somehow fine? Where are all the people that are normally up in arms about the Tiananmen square incident, 'Free-Tibet' crowds or the whole Taiwan issue? Gone ...

    • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Friday August 03 2018, @07:09PM

      by darkfeline (1030) on Friday August 03 2018, @07:09PM (#716901) Homepage

      The employee outcry would be happening inside the company, not outside for you to see. Walking out is a last resort; you lose any power you may have to influence decisions.

      --
      Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
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