Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Mountain View, CA, United States (4E) – “Google Dragonfly,” a self-censoring mobile search engine being developed by Google exclusively for use in China, is a lot scarier than first thought. China will use this tool to suppress dissent.
When news about Dragonfly first broke in August, it was revealed this search engine will have the ability to update a list of search words banned by the Chinese government. These words might nclude subjects terrifying to the communist dictatorship like “human rights,” “Jesus Christ” and even “Winnie the Pooh.” The banned word list on Dragonfly can include any word or phrase Chinese communists find offensive or a threat to their dictatorship.
New media leaks have revealed this search engine can inflict far more damage. It turns out Dragonfly can also link its users’ mobile phone numbers to the search terms they’re using.
Tech pundits note this frightening feature will place millions of Chinese citizens at increased risk of government repression, and likely imprisonment, if they search for topics the communist government deems politically sensitive. Dragonfly will allow the communists to do just this.
Dragonfly is a joint venture between Google and a Chinese-based company. It was exposed in August by The Intercept, a news website dedicated to what it calls “adversarial journalism.”
Dragonfly will be launched amid what Human Rights Watch calls a “broad and sustained offensive on human rights” by Chinese president Xi Jinping. A Chinese cybersecurity law implemented in June 2017 placed additional restrictions on internet freedom, including bans on disseminating news on social media without a permit.
Under Xi, China is championing “cyber sovereignty” that pushes for countries to maintain control over how its population uses the internet within its borders. It’s another definition of censorship. This repressive Chinbese policy contravenes the free and open internet most often supported by democratic nations.
Several Google employees have quit to protest Dragonfly. More than 1,400 employees signed an internal letter demanding more information from Google about the company’s return to China. This country is demanding Google perfect Dragonly as the price for Google’s return to the lucrative Chinese market.
Human Rights Watch assailed Google for not only walking away from what she called a “principled approach” in 2010 but to “snuggle right up” to the Chinese government. It said Google should be insisting on the highest possible standards instead of helping the Chinese government build a better “mouse trap” that will lead to mass arrests.
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