As Google and its video platform YouTube stand accused of censoring and shadow banning conservative and pro-Trump content in the U.S., the social media behemoth is set to partner with the communist Chinese government to offer the Chinese people a censored search engine in the world’s most populous country.
As reported by The Intercept, according to leaked documents, the China-market site will blacklist websites and search terms containing “human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest.”
Code-named Dragonfly, the project has reportedly been under development for nearly a year-and-a-half, launching in the spring of 2017. The development sped up after a December 2017 meeting between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and a top official from the Chinese government, according to internal documents, and interviews with some who are familiar with Dragonfly.
The investigative news site noted further:
Teams of programmers and engineers at Google have created a custom Android app, different versions of which have been named “Maotai” and “Longfei.” The app has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government; the finalized version could be launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from Chinese officials.
The planned move represents a dramatic shift in Google’s policy on China and will mark the first time in almost a decade that the internet giant has operated its search engine in the country.
At present, the current Google search function cannot be accessed by the vast majority of Internet surfers in China as it is blocked by Beijing’s so-called “Great Firewall.”
But the app being built for the Chinese market by Google will fully comply with all of Beijing’s censorship laws and regulations against allowing citizens to access materials that the Communist Party has determined harmful to its leadership.
Already the central government in Beijing has walled off access to certain subjects and materials otherwise available online. They include information about freedom of speech, political opponents, news, sex, and university studies. The Great Firewall also blocks access to any references to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, as well as references to “dissidents” and “anti-communism.”
Access to books like George Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm” have long been prohibited on China’s social media platform Weibo. And Beijing’s censors also block access to Western social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as American media including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, reported The Intercept.
Profits over human rights
Censorship in China is nothing new but keeping ‘revolutionary’ ideas hidden from the Chinese people has been more difficult in the Internet and tech era. Firewalls are effective in China as well as laws forbidding access to certain information, which is one reason why it’s been difficult for Google to break back into the Chinese market.
Google began operating a search function in the Chinese market in 2004, but by 2013 China’s search market share had dropped to 1.7 percent after the company announced in January 2010 it was ceasing most operations in response to a Chinese-origin hack attack. Now, it appears as though the company and China’s communist censors have found a way to reintroduce the search giant to Chinese consumers.
The problem for Google is that the company claims it supports a free and open Internet – and that may be true insofar as it goes, though the claim does not comport with its censorship of conservative and pro-Trump materials. Obviously, outright government censorship would not comport with that claim, either.
But it’s all about money for the Left-wing corporation, CNN Tech reports: China has hundreds of millions of Internet users, many of whom are prolific online shoppers. When it comes to making a buck versus doing the right thing, it appears as though Google has made its choice.
Don’t get us wrong – profit is a good thing. But China is a hostile revisionist power and there’s no telling what Beijing will glean (steal/hack) from Google’s technology suites.
And then, of course, there’s that abysmal human rights record.