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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: 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.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @05:54PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23 2018, @05:54PM (#738911)

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=Google+profit [wolframalpha.com] $16.64 billion per year (US dollars per year) (trailing 12-month value as of March 31, 2018)

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=Google+revenue [wolframalpha.com] $117.3 billion per year (US dollars per year) (trailing 12-month value as of March 31, 2018)

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=China+national+budget [wolframalpha.com] $1.618 trillion per year (world rank: 2nd) (2016 estimate)

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=China+gnp [wolframalpha.com] $11.37 trillion per year (US dollars per year) (world rank: 2nd) (2016 estimate)

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=USA+budget [wolframalpha.com] $6.699 trillion per year [expenditure]

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=USA+gnp [wolframalpha.com] $20.68 trillion per year (US dollars per year) (Q2 2018)

     

  • (Score: 2) by termigator on Sunday September 23 2018, @06:04PM

    by termigator (4271) on Sunday September 23 2018, @06:04PM (#738918)

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

    Yep. This is a good example of showing that capitalism is separate from human rights. From a capitalistic perspective, what Google is attempting with China makes sense due to the potential profit to be made in a country with the world’s largest population.