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posted by takyon on Tuesday December 18 2018, @04:57AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the there-are-no-plans dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Google's Secret China Project "Effectively Ended" After Internal Confrontation

Google has been forced to shut down a data analysis system it was using to develop a censored search engine for China after members of the company's privacy team raised internal complaints that it had been kept secret from them, The Intercept has learned.

The internal rift over the system has had massive ramifications, effectively ending work on the censored search engine, known as Dragonfly, according to two sources familiar with the plans. The incident represents a major blow to top Google executives, including CEO Sundar Pichai, who have over the last two years made the China project one of their main priorities.

The dispute began in mid-August, when the The Intercept revealed that Google employees working on Dragonfly had been using a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for the censored search engine, which was designed to block out broad categories of information related to democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest, in accordance with strict rules on censorship in China that are enforced by the country's authoritarian Communist Party government.

The Beijing-based website, 265.com, is a Chinese-language web directory service that claims to be "China's most used homepage." Google purchased the site in 2008 from Cai Wensheng, a billionaire Chinese entrepreneur. 265.com provides its Chinese visitors with news updates, information about financial markets, horoscopes, and advertisements for cheap flights and hotels. It also has a function that allows people to search for websites, images, and videos. However, search queries entered on 265.com are redirected to Baidu, the most popular search engine in China and Google's main competitor in the country. As The Intercept reported in August, it appears that Google has used 265.com as a honeypot for market research, storing information about Chinese users' searches before sending them along to Baidu.

According to two Google sources, engineers working on Dragonfly obtained large datasets showing queries that Chinese people were entering into the 265.com search engine. At least one of the engineers obtained a key needed to access an "application programming interface," or API, associated with 265.com, and used it to harvest search data from the site. Members of Google's privacy team, however, were kept in the dark about the use of 265.com. Several groups of engineers have now been moved off of Dragonfly completely and told to shift their attention away from China.


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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:


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  • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @05:07AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @05:07AM (#775739)

    Just read/watch this and think about how its from the same people who must approve of this china censorship project:
    https://www.abc15.com/news/national/leaked-video-shows-google-executives-upset-after-2016-presidential-election [abc15.com]

    Scary stuff.

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday December 18 2018, @06:48PM (1 child)

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday December 18 2018, @06:48PM (#775963) Journal

      How dare Americans express political opinions AC disagrees with! Free speech is so unamerican!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @07:33PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @07:33PM (#775995)

        Is every post of yours a strawman? Obviously this one is about how the same executives who are so concerned about:

        xenophobia, hatred, and a desire for answers that may or may not be there. It's fueling distrust of experts and disregard of traditional institutions

        Isn't it a bit strange the same people who are concerned about that are building censorship software for a government that currently has imprisoned over a billion people in labor camps for "re-education"?

        The scary thing is the blatant psychopathic hypocrisy.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @05:09AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @05:09AM (#775740)

    Google simply can't not be evil.

    One of these days, Goog will be synonymous with Nazi.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @05:24AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @05:24AM (#775743)

      Jews are the real Nazis tbqhfam.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @05:47AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @05:47AM (#775748)

        Jewish Nazis are most successful Nazis just like Michael David Crawford is most successful MDC.

        Fuck MDC

        • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @10:26AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @10:26AM (#775776)

          Salty Spice! I haven't seen any of your posts for a while. I was hoping you were quiet because you were in inpatient attitude rehab. I guess not.

          Salt on, Salty Spice!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @08:54AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @08:54AM (#775763)

    Can we call it collaboration at this point? I mean, what the hell else is it?
    Two-faced, money-grubbing sacks of crap.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @10:24AM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @10:24AM (#775775)

    Do we really believe that Google is giving up on this marketunity? I would not put it past them to pass it along to another Alphabet subsidiary or to hide it in the bowels of Google HQ.

    The fact that Google willingly agreed to develop this censor engine for China means they already weighed the pros and cons of it being discovered. This is big money for Google, and they know many other countries will want a similar product/service. And don't think the US isn't interested in using this type of technology to listen to Americans' internet activity (and possibly alter search results).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @10:37AM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @10:37AM (#775780)

      They should invest in a Baidu competitor and buy them outright if the political situation in China ever changes. Then either slap the Google logo on it or operate both brands.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @11:24AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @11:24AM (#775789)

        They should just buy China.

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday December 18 2018, @03:17PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 18 2018, @03:17PM (#775855) Journal

          China should buy Google.

          --
          You can not have fun on the weak days but you can on the weakened.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @01:44PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @01:44PM (#775817)

        ..if the political situation in China ever changes

        The names of the musicians might change, the instruments sometimes evolve, they might even play using 'western' instruments but the same political song has been playing in China for several millennia..so you might have a wee bit of a long wait there..
        Chinese communists are Chinese first, Pragmatic second, Chinese communists third and lastly 'International' communists (when it suits them), unlike the west, they're adept (through practice) at playing the long game.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @03:29PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @03:29PM (#775860)

        I hope they do buy Baidu for billions. Then get expropriated by the Chinese government, and all their non-US markets ruined by Chinese competitors.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @03:30PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18 2018, @03:30PM (#775861)

      It says "effectively ended". It DID NOT end.

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