Google Confirms Authoritarian China Censorship Project
“Project Dragonfly” was a rumored search engine that would track users in China and submit data to governmental authorities for enforcement of censorship law. Google recently denied creating the project to congress for the authoritarian Chinese government. A series of leaks by employees to the intercept confirmed the projects existence.
Having tried obscuring the scope of "Project Dragonfly" in communications with both the public and its own employees - lies that were laid bare by an embarrassing series leaks to the Intercept - Google CEO Sundar Pichai has calculated that it would be better for the company's public image if he "came clean" about Google's plans for returning to China, a market it abandoned in 2010 after repeatedly clashing with the Chinese Government over its censorship policies.
And so it was that, two weeks after Vice President Mike Pence demanded that the company kill "Project Dragonfly", Google CEO Sundar Pichai decided that now would be a reasonable time to publicly acknowledge the project for the first time. However, what Pichai tried to spin as "leveling" with his audience was, in reality, anything but: Despite reports that "Dragonfly" is "larger than many projects at Google" and employs some 300 full-time engineers, Pichai insisted on describing it as an "experiment" that was in its "early stages" of development (details from a leaked internal memo have suggested that "Dragonfly" could be up and running within the next six to nine months).
It is unknown what the next step is for government. It is atypical for a United States company to secretly involve themselves with a despotic regime and commit human rights abuses.
Google may be open to criminal prosecution.
For readers who missed the damning series of leaks sketching out the scope of the project, "Dragonfly" is intended to be a censored search engine that would block results for queries that the Chinese government considered sensitive, like the Mandarin phrases for "human rights" and "student protest". It would also require Chinese users to log in with their credentials before searches can be run, ensuring that the Communist Party can log and examine a comprehensive record of search activity. -Z/H