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posted by martyb on Wednesday October 10 2018, @07:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the Dr.-Ian-Malcolm dept.

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

Related Stories

Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal 28 comments

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

Uproar at Google after News of Censored China Search App Breaks 53 comments

iTWire:

Only a few of the search behemoth's 88,000 workers were briefed on the project before The Intercept reported on 1 August that Google had plans to launch a censored mobile search app for the Chinese market, with no access to sites about human rights, democracy, religion or peaceful protest.

The customised Android search app, with different versions known as Maotai and Longfei, was said to have been demonstrated to Chinese Government authorities.

In a related development, six US senators from both parties were reported to have sent a letter to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai, demanding an explanation over the company's move.

One source inside Google, who witnessed the backlash from employees after news of the plan was reported, told The Intercept: "Everyone's access to documents got turned off, and is being turned on [on a] document-by-document basis.

"There's been total radio silence from leadership, which is making a lot of people upset and scared. ... Our internal meme site and Google Plus are full of talk, and people are a.n.g.r.y."


Original Submission

"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."

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:

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

Politics: Senators Demand Answers About Google+ Breach; Project Dragonfly Undermines Google's Neutrality 12 comments

Republican Senators Demand Answers about Google+ Cover-up

Senators Thune, Wicker, and Moran Letter to Google

takyon: Three Senators have written a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai requesting responses to several questions about the recent Google+ breach.

Also at Reuters, Ars Technica, and The Verge.

How Google's China Project Undermines its Claims to Political Neutrality

Submitted via IRC for chromas

How Google's China project undermines its claims to political neutrality

The company's official position on content moderation remains political neutrality, a spokeswoman told me in an email:

Google is committed to free expression — supporting the free flow of ideas is core to our mission. Where we have developed our own content policies, we enforce them in a politically neutral way. Giving preference to content of one political ideology over another would fundamentally conflict with our goal of providing services that work for everyone.

Of course, it's impossible to read the report or Google's statement without considering Project Dragonfly. According to Ryan Gallagher's ongoing reporting at The Intercept, Google's planned Chinese search engine will enable anything but the free flow of ideas. Even in an environment where American users are calling for tech platforms to limit users' freedoms in exchange for more safety and security, many still recoil at the idea of a search engine that bans search terms in support of an authoritarian regime.

And that's the unresolvable tension at the heart of this report. Almost all of us would agree that some restrictions on free speech are necessary. But few of us would agree on what those restrictions should be. Being a good censor — or at least, a more consistent censor — is within Google's grasp. But being a politically neutral one is probably impossible.

See also: Senator Says Google Failed to Answer Key Questions on China

Related: Leaked Transcript Contradicts Google's Denials About Censored Chinese Search Engine


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2Original Submission #3

Is Ethical A.I. Even Possible? 35 comments

Is Ethical A.I. Even Possible?

When a news article revealed that Clarifai was working with the Pentagon and some employees questioned the ethics of building artificial intelligence that analyzed video captured by drones, the company said the project would save the lives of civilians and soldiers.

"Clarifai's mission is to accelerate the progress of humanity with continually improving A.I.," read a blog post from Matt Zeiler, the company's founder and chief executive, and a prominent A.I. researcher. Later, in a news media interview, Mr. Zeiler announced a new management position that would ensure all company projects were ethically sound.

As activists, researchers, and journalists voice concerns over the rise of artificial intelligence, warning against biased, deceptive and malicious applications, the companies building this technology are responding. From tech giants like Google and Microsoft to scrappy A.I. start-ups, many are creating corporate principles meant to ensure their systems are designed and deployed in an ethical way. Some set up ethics officers or review boards to oversee these principles.

But tensions continue to rise as some question whether these promises will ultimately be kept. Companies can change course. Idealism can bow to financial pressure. Some activists — and even some companies — are beginning to argue that the only way to ensure ethical practices is through government regulation.

"We don't want to see a commercial race to the bottom," Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, said at the New Work Summit in Half Moon Bay, Calif., hosted last week by The New York Times. "Law is needed."

Possible != Probable. And the "needed law" could come in the form of a ban and/or surveillance of coding and hardware-building activities.

Related:


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by Kilo110 on Wednesday October 10 2018, @08:29PM

    by Kilo110 (2853) on Wednesday October 10 2018, @08:29PM (#747119)

    Zombies are to brains as megacorps are to growth. They can't stop chasing it.

    It was inevitable that google alphabet would start doing evil things. I mean, after all, executive bonuses are at stake!

  • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Wednesday October 10 2018, @08:53PM

    by darkfeline (1030) on Wednesday October 10 2018, @08:53PM (#747128) Homepage

    So the guy managing the project claims that it will launch in a year, but claims the timeline is subject to change?

    That definitely sounds like "not close to launching" to me.

    --
    Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by archfeld on Wednesday October 10 2018, @09:00PM

    by archfeld (4650) <treboreel@live.com> on Wednesday October 10 2018, @09:00PM (#747132) Journal

    Alphabet, a for profit corporation delivers what the government(customer) requests for a profit and ensures it continues a very profitable business relationship with a foreign government. Sounds like business as usual. Anyone depending on a corporation to make a moral stand an not make a profit is umm hopelessly naïve.

    --
    For the NSA : Explosives, guns, assassination, conspiracy, primers, detonators, initiators, main charge, nuclear charge
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @09:13PM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @09:13PM (#747137)

    If I was a Chinaman I would be using DuckDuckGo now.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @09:26PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @09:26PM (#747145)

      If I was a Chinaman

      If you were a "Chinaman" you probably wouldn't use the term "Chinaman".

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday October 10 2018, @09:26PM (6 children)

      by c0lo (156) on Wednesday October 10 2018, @09:26PM (#747146) Journal

      Any reason to refrain from using DDG if you are not a Chinaman?

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @09:36PM (5 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @09:36PM (#747153)

        DDG is good for Chinamen and non-Chinamen alike.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @10:41PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @10:41PM (#747178)

          How about the women and all the other genders?

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12 2018, @07:28PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12 2018, @07:28PM (#748010)

            I believe women and other genders fall under the category of "non-Chinamen".

        • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Wednesday October 10 2018, @10:42PM (1 child)

          by aristarchus (2645) on Wednesday October 10 2018, @10:42PM (#747179) Journal

          "Also, Dude, "Chinaman" is not the preferred nomenclature! Asian-American, please. "
          http://thebiglebowski.wikia.com/wiki/The_Chinaman [wikia.com]

          • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @04:51PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @04:51PM (#747502)

            fuck your "preferred nomenclature" and your pronouns.

        • (Score: 3, Funny) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday October 11 2018, @02:25AM

          by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday October 11 2018, @02:25AM (#747258) Homepage Journal

          That's why I use their Tor Hidden Service

          But tor is a pita so mostly I use Google in the clear

          --
          Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Wednesday October 10 2018, @10:16PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday October 10 2018, @10:16PM (#747173) Journal
      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Thursday October 11 2018, @07:34PM

      by nitehawk214 (1304) on Thursday October 11 2018, @07:34PM (#747599)

      I just wish DDG's image search wasn't somehow actually shittier than Bing.

      --
      "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
  • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Wednesday October 10 2018, @09:47PM

    by MostCynical (2589) on Wednesday October 10 2018, @09:47PM (#747160) Journal

    liars lie

    Judges, presidents, corporations..

    Even when caught out, lie again

    Welcome to 2018.

    --
    "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @10:10PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @10:10PM (#747169)

    Since there was that other leak where google is literally talking how to be "The good censor", "Finding the right amount of censorship". And their previous attempt at a censored version for China, I don't know how people are suprised that google is tap dancing over the grill, so they eventually find that "right amount of censorship"

  • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Wednesday October 10 2018, @11:08PM (2 children)

    by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 10 2018, @11:08PM (#747191) Journal

    I've been using mostly DuckDuckGo for a while now but this tears it. Falkon works as well as Chromium for me, DDG is good enough to find what I need, and I don't use GMail or any of their other products. Screw them. I hope they crash and burn for this.

    --
    I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @11:09PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @11:09PM (#747192)

    So what's it going to be, are we going to round up Muslims the world over and put them all in Gulags [scmp.com] or not?

    Worldwide condemnation and extensive economic sanctions on China would be the normal response, obviously Google executives have other plans.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @12:34AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @12:34AM (#747213)

      There's a great topic for a Soylent poll...

      Should we round up Muslims the world over and put them in gulags?

      [] Yes
      [] Inshallah
      [] Only the terrorist ones
      [] is Guantanamo full already?
      [] Let's ask Google

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @12:34AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @12:34AM (#747212)

    This was exclusively obtained by Breitbart. Why not mention that?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @01:14AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @01:14AM (#747233)

      Truth triggers (American) liberals, can't have that now. They'll just dismiss it as fakenews.

    • (Score: 2, Offtopic) by realDonaldTrump on Thursday October 11 2018, @08:42AM

      by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Thursday October 11 2018, @08:42AM (#747339) Homepage Journal

      Believe me, it ain't just Google that censors.

      What about the 2 Subs in the Subs Queue. From Anonymous. They're "Pending." Supposedly. They call it pending, it's not pending. It looks like IGNORE. It looks like, didn't read. But, maybe the Editors made VERY SECRET TWEETS about them. And they'll say, "oh those were terrible terrible Subs. And we can't tell you what the Editors said about them, it's very private. But they're definitely not going on the Front Page." And they won't say, "oh, by the way Anonymous did some Subs, we made a better one, we think it's much better than you could do, but thank you Anonymous." No credit to Anonymous. They'll be Pending then the Robot Editor will reject. So sorry!!!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @01:04AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @01:04AM (#747230)

    People laughed at Alex Jones when he has been saying Google is in league with the Chinese, for a while now.

    Cospiracy Theory my ass. With all tge sp called Conspiracy Theories I witnessed since 2016, just wondering how many more are true.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @08:57AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @08:57AM (#747345)

      You mean like the Conspiracy Theory that Russia meddled with the US 2016 election?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @02:17AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11 2018, @02:17AM (#747254)

    Google skews its search results outside of China already to suit its ideology.
    Why not skew it as its newest customer wishes?
    Google is already in the business of controlling information access.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday October 11 2018, @02:18AM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday October 11 2018, @02:18AM (#747255) Homepage Journal

    But it's not.

    There Oughta Be A Law that penalize US companies that facilitate human rights abuses: Cisco supplied the routers for The Great Firewall, Apple removes apps from its Cihense stores upon government request and back in the day a US company supplied I think it was the Indonesian police with cattle prods

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
  • (Score: 2, Troll) by realDonaldTrump on Thursday October 11 2018, @08:25AM

    by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Thursday October 11 2018, @08:25AM (#747331) Homepage Journal

    They are assholes -- BIG TIME!!! Especially @DaveHogue [twitter.com]. Antitrust?

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