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posted by martyb on Sunday September 23 2018, @06:26AM   Printer-friendly
from the Quis-custodiet-ipsos-custodes? dept.

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:

Eric Schmidt, who has been the CEO of Google and executive chairman of its parent company, Alphabet, predicts that within the next decade there will be two distinct internets: one led by the U.S. and the other by China. Schmidt shared his thoughts at a private event in San Francisco on Wednesday night convened by investment firm Village Global VC. The firm enlists tech luminaries — including Schmidt, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Diane Green — as limited partners, then invests their money into early-stage tech ventures.

At the event, economist Tyler Cowen asked about the possibility of the internet fragmenting into different sub-internets with different regulations and limited access between them in coming years. "What's the chance, say, 10 to 15 years, we have just three to four separate internets?"

Also at CNBC and The Washington Post.

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

Related: In Snowden's Wake, Calls for Balkanized Internet Present More Harm than Good
China Begins Enforcing Internet Real-Name Policy


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  • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @06:30AM (12 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @06:30AM (#738780)

    It was like someone was sprinting through a forest, snapping twigs with every step. That was the sound that the man, Plopham, heard.

    Plopham approached the room in which the sound was originating from. Slowly and carefully, Plopham turned the doorknob and opened the door, revealing the contents of the room. His eyes went wide.

    It was effective. It was efficient. It was the pinnacle of effectiveness & efficiency. Plopham could not believe what he was bearing witness to. Yet, even if he did not believe it, reality remained the same: A snappy man existed there.

    This snappy man was going from child to child and twisting their heads completely backwards, snuffing out their wretched lives instantly. While this was fairly normal, what was out of the ordinary was that he was doing this at a speed that the brain refused to register. To an average person, they would just hear rapid snapping sounds and see the children slump lifelessly to the ground in quick succession.

    "Amazing," Plopham thought. This was a truly grand spectacle, one which made Plopham thankful to be alive to witness it. The spectating man thought the children looked like owls, what with their twisted heads. As the man became lost in thought, he almost failed to notice that the snappy man had finished his snapping. Once Plopham noticed, he surveyed the room.

    Beautiful. The children - all several hundred of them - were naked and their genitals and anuses were bleeding, indicating that they had been properly utilized beforehand. So, not only did the man snap their little necks at an astounding rate, but he had even taken the time to utilize their yummy bodies. Tears began to flow down Plopham's face.

    Unbeknownst to him, this day would eventually be recorded in the history books as 'The Snappening', the day in which mankind began to claw back their rights...

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @08:16AM (11 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @08:16AM (#738789)

      This shit again? Seriously, how difficult would it be to write some keyword/phrase filters to automatically delete on submission?

      • (Score: 3, Offtopic) by jasassin on Sunday September 23 2018, @08:40AM (9 children)

        by jasassin (3566) <jasassin@gmail.com> on Sunday September 23 2018, @08:40AM (#738793) Homepage Journal

        Soylentnews doesn't censor. That is what the moderation system is for.

        As for China and Dragonfly, is anyone surprised? Did an internal memo like that need to be surpressed? I think we get the gist of it by now.

        --
        jasassin@gmail.com GPG Key ID: 0x663EB663D1E7F223
        • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by aristarchus on Sunday September 23 2018, @09:14AM (5 children)

          by aristarchus (2645) on Sunday September 23 2018, @09:14AM (#738796) Journal

          Soylentnews doesn't censor. That is what the moderation system is for.

          Yes, but you know what happens to those people whose job it is to filter such filth as this? It is like cops, who see people at their worst, and come to expect the worst, and so become the worst. Why traumatize Soylentils with the responsibility of deep-sixing mr. snuff woose? I think there is no "speech" being censored, just some sicko being denied a platform. Speaking of which, without censorship, could we not do the same with TMB? A limit on journals? Or, perhaps, TMB is our serial "True Detective" author? Of course, we would have to ask TMB to check this out for us.

          • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Sunday September 23 2018, @12:38PM (2 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday September 23 2018, @12:38PM (#738822) Journal
            And you exhibit the key peril of censorship, the ever-expanding scope. There's always more targets that need the iron fist.
            • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @05:52PM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @05:52PM (#738908)

              The first one is always the most difficult.

              There's always more targets

              Since SN has successfully silenced aristarchus, what would a few more be? For the sake of freedom, and being able to be on the new ChinaNet!

              • (Score: 0, Troll) by khallow on Monday September 24 2018, @01:28PM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 24 2018, @01:28PM (#739158) Journal

                Since SN has successfully silenced aristarchus

                Premise isn't true.

          • (Score: 0, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @01:29PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @01:29PM (#738832)

            Presented without comment:

            Speaking of which, without censorship, could we not do the same with TMB? A limit on journals?

            #Free{nick}_NOW!!!

          • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:35PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:35PM (#739000)

            Meh. This is nothing compared to my childhood.

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Mykl on Monday September 24 2018, @02:46AM (1 child)

          by Mykl (1112) on Monday September 24 2018, @02:46AM (#739046)

          Soylentnews doesn't censor. That is what the moderation system is for.

          Wrong. SN has censored at least twice in the past off the top of my head - certain references to an Old Testament book as well as a group of people with dark-skinned phalluses. Note how I'm avoiding using their specific terms? It's because this post itself would likely be blocked if I used the keywords.

          So, now that we have established that SN indeed does censor, it's just a question of where we draw the line. I would prefer that these little dimwitted pedo-snuff fantasies fall on the 'censored' side, as they contribute absolutely nothing of value whatsoever, and only serve to turn people away from the site.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25 2018, @12:16AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25 2018, @12:16AM (#739460)

            SN has filtered repetitive spam posts before, but they've never retroactively deleted comments that did make it through. Filtering these pedo-snuff spam posts would seem more difficult.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 24 2018, @10:15AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 24 2018, @10:15AM (#739114)

          Soylentnews doesn't censor. That is what the moderation system is for.

          And how easy the moderation system is to game.

          That's why SN is polluted with griefergrunt, alt-wrong and polycell garbage moderated all the way up to 'Insightful'.

          And that's why its other readers are leaving, and not coming back.

      • (Score: 1, Disagree) by c0lo on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:24PM

        by c0lo (156) on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:24PM (#738996) Journal

        Let me assure you, it is very hard and counterproductive by side effects.

        Yours,

        Dick Niggers

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 0, Funny) by realDonaldTrump on Sunday September 23 2018, @07:39AM (1 child)

    by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Sunday September 23 2018, @07:39AM (#738785) Homepage Journal

    I mean the true interference in the last election was that, if you look at all, virtually all of those companies are super liberal companies in favor of Hillary Clinton. Maybe I did a better job because I’m good with the Twitter and I’m good at Social Media, but the truth is they were all on Hillary Clinton’s side, and if you look at what was going on with Facebook and with Google and all of it, they were very much on her side. Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of results on "Trump News" are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation. Will be addressed. Which is, that's why we created the #StopTheBias [twitter.com] hashtag.

    I'm not a fan of Google. But what they're doing for China, so interesting. And what our other Companies -- Cisco and many more -- have done, it's been fabulous for China. Golden Shield. You think China, you don't think terrorists. Not a big problem with terrorists there. And getting their boarder under control is a big part of that. They always say, "oh, we want open boarders!" But, they don't open up that boarder. Smart. And another part of it, they closed up their internet. They know exactly what's happening on their internet. Someone messes with their elections, with their Energy Grid, anything -- they know. We need that here. So that what happened with Puerto Rico, with the Energy Grid in Puerto Rico, doesn't happen again. So that what happened with our 2016 election doesn't happen again. I'm putting SECURITY into our cyber. So many smart people working on our cyber. But, they forgot to put in the Security. I'm the only guy that can do it. I call it my National Cyber Strategy. And Google -- if you're listening -- if you play your cards right, possibly I'll allow you onto our VERY SPECIAL internet. Our SECURE internet. So don't be dumb!!!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:41AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:41AM (#738813)

      > They always say, "oh, we want open boarders!"
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_border [wikipedia.org]

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by edinlinux on Sunday September 23 2018, @08:00AM (1 child)

    by edinlinux (4637) on Sunday September 23 2018, @08:00AM (#738787)

    Is there a link to the actual memo anywhere?

    There are many news articles all over talking about 'the memo' in today's daily dose of 'instant outrage', but no news outlet is actually showing the memo or providing a link to it.

    What does it actually say?

    • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Sunday September 23 2018, @12:40PM

      by MostCynical (2589) on Sunday September 23 2018, @12:40PM (#738825) Journal

      the intercept says they have seen the memo, but no one has published a copy.

      --
      "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 Sunday September 23 2018, @08:38AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @08:38AM (#738792)

    In the US they call it copyright violations and hire lobbyist to DMCA their opposition where their lawyers can throw money at it in the courts.

    In a dirty game no matter where you live.

  • (Score: 5, Touché) by Lester on Sunday September 23 2018, @10:57AM (8 children)

    by Lester (6231) on Sunday September 23 2018, @10:57AM (#738809) Journal

    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.

    Instead of requiring user to log like in China, user in West World users are identified without realizing by being logged in Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, cookies and fingerprints. And instead of letting a Chinese partner unilaterally access to data, they let NSA and other USA Government agencies, or five eyes [wikipedia.org], unilaterally access to data.

    So the problem is that we have an Internet controlled by USA and we don't want a part of that Internet break off and becoming a Chinese Internet.

    "What's the chance, say, 10 to 15 years, we have just three to four separate internets?"

    very high probability. Internet was invented by USA and logically it doesn't want to give away control. The result of USA not wanting a multilateral control of Internet is the creation of separate Internets. If USA doesn't want to share it's governance with, i.e. EU, but Russia is eager to, then EU will join with Russia, and the same with China.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:46AM (7 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:46AM (#738814)

      The value of networks is (directly?) related to the number of people connected to the network. Splitting the internet into pieces reduces value--for one tiny example, how will eBay sellers in China be found by buyers in USA?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @01:31PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @01:31PM (#738833)

        how will eBay sellers in China be found by buyers in USA?

        Da internets!

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by isj on Sunday September 23 2018, @01:47PM (4 children)

        by isj (5249) on Sunday September 23 2018, @01:47PM (#738835) Homepage

        I'd argue that there are already multiple internets due to languages. When the first webpage in non-English came online then there were no longer a single internet.
        How will Belarussians find services from Burkina Faso? How will Thai find services from Azerbaijan? The same way they do today: They don't.

        How will Chinese sellers find buyers in USA? By deploying webpages in the usanian internet.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @02:20PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @02:20PM (#738842)

          Partly true, but Google (and others) have made big strides with automatic translation and I regularly look at non-English websites with some degree of success. In other words, Google has been trying to unify the internet, at least the parts that are split off by language barriers. In my case it's not yet to the level where I'm willing to place orders, but plenty of useful information comes through.

          • (Score: 2) by isj on Sunday September 23 2018, @03:47PM

            by isj (5249) on Sunday September 23 2018, @03:47PM (#738870) Homepage

            Yes, automatic translation has turned many source from useless to partially useful, but I wouldn't call it reliable.
            EnglishSpanish is pretty OK. ItalianGerman is unreliable. I can't even imagine how UrduThai might be.

          • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @04:32PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @04:32PM (#738884)

            They cant even get the basics right with chinese to english numbers. Anything with prices would be completely useless.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by requerdanos on Sunday September 23 2018, @09:40PM

          by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Sunday September 23 2018, @09:40PM (#738963) Journal

          When the first webpage in non-English came online then there were no longer a single internet.

          Depends on what you mean by "Internet."

          If you mean "inter-network", a network of computers connected together--which is where we get the word--then yes, there is a single network regardless of what languages its users speak. And a computer connected at any point (regardless of the prevailing local language) is accessible from any other point.

          If you mean some nebulous, ill-defined concept that has nothing to do with networking (perhaps defined by language groups), then, I guess it's whatever you say.

      • (Score: 2) by Lester on Monday September 24 2018, @11:54AM

        by Lester (6231) on Monday September 24 2018, @11:54AM (#739132) Journal

        for one tiny example, how will eBay sellers in China be found by buyers in USA?

        And how sellers is USA will be found by buyers in China?

        That is easy: Buyers search in USA's internet and China's internet. And sellers publish their offers in USA's internet and China's Internet. I know it is double work, it is not efficient, it would be better id there were only one. Do you agree with closing USA's Internet and letting only China Internet? No, I suppose. Well, China doesn't either want to close China's Internet and letting only USA's Internet.

        The other option is to reach an agreement. I don't think it is possible now. USA should have reach an agreement time ago. Demanding ISPs and American companies full access to data doesn't help

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by canopic jug on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:37AM

    by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:37AM (#738811) Journal

    Google is big and pervasive enough that it could do a lot to actually cause and profit from the split. Or it could go the other way and hold the net together and profit from that. Mostly it comes down to which way Google decides to move and that is heavily influenced, if not controlled, by the head, which would be Schmidt himself. He's smart and experienced enough that he does not babble idly to the press so his statement is part of a decision. I truly hope he is not signalling plans to help split the net into many regional subnets. However the rumors coming in from Project Dragonfly seem to suggest that. If so, then time is of the essence to change that.

    --
    Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @01:24PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @01:24PM (#738831)

    Do No Evil

  • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Sunday September 23 2018, @02:22PM

    by hemocyanin (186) on Sunday September 23 2018, @02:22PM (#738843) Journal

    Sounds like Google is becoming a mini China.

    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.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @03:09PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @03:09PM (#738861)

    Which is different that the USA how?

    • (Score: 2) by requerdanos on Sunday September 23 2018, @09:41PM (1 child)

      by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Sunday September 23 2018, @09:41PM (#738964) Journal

      Which is different that the USA how?

      The primary differences are ethnic, geographic, and linguistic.

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:36PM

        by c0lo (156) on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:36PM (#739002) Journal

        The primary only differences are ethnic, geographic, and linguistic and specific interest/purpose of doing it

        FTFY - with the note that none of the sides take the interest of the users into consideration in any other way then how to get around or squash it.

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by jmorris on Sunday September 23 2018, @03:11PM

    by jmorris (4844) on Sunday September 23 2018, @03:11PM (#738863)

    China keeps Google out because they understand. They know Google is running a perfect police state monitoring system ALREADY. It is biasing search results to drive a political agenda ALREADY. That agenda just isn't China's agenda and so they ban them. But Google has already perfected all of the tech being discussed by testing it on Western users. Now they simply want to further monitize it by offering a version in China they could control. But China would be deceived if they bought in, for while Google would be happy to allow Chinese authorities to see, they would never give control regardless how many somber and carefully crafted agreements were signed. Google serves the Deep State and it wants to put tentacles into China badly.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by DrkShadow on Sunday September 23 2018, @03:56PM (2 children)

    by DrkShadow (1404) on Sunday September 23 2018, @03:56PM (#738872)

    [...] 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.

    Just like United States Google! Where they track you, your location, and they share the resulting history with the US government (when they come knocking)! Just business as usual. The only real difference is you have to be signed in to search there, whereas they just use tracking cookies and IP addresses here.

    Emails demanding deletion of the memo contained "pixel trackers" that notified human resource managers when their messages had been read, recipients determined.

    Because I have no doubt someone's going to say it's not effective. They're doing exactly the same things here. They're well versed in how to track, censor, and so on. They do it with tracking pixels, DMCA notices, ReCaptcha, IP addresses, cookies, Javascript inclusions, link shorteners, referral tags from jquery hosted on Google servers, requiring phone numbers to sign up for a Google account, and doubtless things that we haven't even thought about (much less Google Analytics). Given I get effective targeted ads in fresh Firefox profiles, it seems to be pretty effective. Something always slips through.

    Google is just another multinational multi-billion dollar corporation. Nothing new.

  • (Score: 2) by arslan on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:16PM (1 child)

    by arslan (3462) on Sunday September 23 2018, @11:16PM (#738993)

    How about a decentralized net [ipfs.io]?

    Note, still WIP - more needs to be built to be big brother resistant but the foundation is there.

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Monday September 24 2018, @01:10PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Monday September 24 2018, @01:10PM (#739149) Journal

      How about a decentralized net [ipfs.io]?

      Based on their website, it looks like they're trying to reinvent what Freenet was doing ten or twenty years ago, but without all the security and privacy features...

  • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Monday September 24 2018, @05:19AM

    by darkfeline (1030) on Monday September 24 2018, @05:19AM (#739069) Homepage

    Keep in mind that the only facts here are the claims of a few anonymous employees. Even if you assume that they represented all of the facts honestly and in good faith, it's not very likely that they know about all of the context around whatever happened; Google is a big company.

    > The memo was shared earlier this month among a group of Google employees who have been organizing internal protests over the censored search system

    I can see a lot of reasons why a company would want to delete a document about organizing internal protests, for fuck's sake, such as wasting paid time on planning to deliberately obstruct company work.

    To me, the most hilarious part of all this is things like: https://twitter.com/kateconger/status/1030243849267015681 [twitter.com]

    There was an internal discussion about the project, which was leaked live on Twitter. There is some proportion of Google employees with strong political opinions who felt that leaking confidential information was the best strategy. In this case, it appears to have instead prevented internal discussion, with the net result that the project ended up becoming more secretive.

    --
    Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 24 2018, @04:06PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 24 2018, @04:06PM (#739220)

    Multiple Internets? Probably not. There's no reason to build separate pipelines or a different network when you can install throttling filters.

    Multiple "webs" or other secured protocols, with securing done at geographic or other borders? Almost certainly. I'd propose that is what China's Great Firewall already is, and on a lesser degree North Korea's 'open internet' which blacklists sites like Facebook. It isn't much of a leap to allow the networking but limit requests to a govnerment-crafted-protocol.

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