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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: 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.

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  • (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.