Google CEO Sundar Pichai for the first time opened up about the existence of censored search engine for China market under Google’s Project Dragonfly. The revelation was made in a conference held on Monday this week in San Francisco. The project to censor search engine for the Chinese market was first reported back in August by The Intercept.
Leaked details of the project dubbed “Project Dragonfly” showed how the tool would censor content that is considered offensive by the Chinese government. This includes content related to human rights. An internal memo that was generated by Google employees also explained that the government would closely track the Chinese audience.
According to one of the engineers mandated to oversee the Google’s Project Dragonfly, the search system required users to log in to perform searches, track their specific location, and share their browsing history with a selected Chinese partner who would be granted access to all the data unconditionally.
Notably, Google decided to exit China in 2010 after Gmail was hacked by hacked by groups or individuals affiliated to the Chinese government. Since then, the management team has been contemplating when and how to penetrate the country again and offer services to more than 800 million internet users in the country.
During the conference, Pichai opted to discuss the positive aspects of Project Dragonfly despite the many questions that were asked by the audience. He said that the project would provide more information to Chinese users and that the company has put in place measures that will enable it to fulfill more than 99% of queries.
Project Dragonfly is Very Controversial
Project Dragonfly is very controversial, and it is rumored that more than 1,000 Google employees decided to quit after its launch. In one of the letters seen by The New York Times, the employees made a unanimous decision to resign stating that Google willingness to abide by China’s stringent censorship requirements was unethical and raised urgent moral issues that need to be addressed.
Jack Poulson, a Google researcher who decided to resign stated that he believed that it was his ethical responsibility to quit the company to protest the management’s decision to sideline the company’s public human rights commitments. Jack also went ahead to state that implementation of Google’s Project Dragonfly was not in line with Google’s AI manifesto, which categorically stated that the company would not use or develop technologies that would go against the globally recognized principles of human rights and international law.
Pichai defended Project Dragonfly by stating that its primary objective was to help Google understand China’s internet market. “Given how important the market is and how many users there are, we feel obliged to think hard about this problem and take a longer-term view.”
Learn more about digital marketing and how you can market your products and services in China by getting in touch with our support team.
China is considered the World’s Largest Internet Market – recent China Internet Network Information Center indicates that the country has more than 800 million users. This figure makes it almost impossible for companies/brands that are interested in offering products and services in this country to ignore it despite the moral and ethical implications of the current Chinese government surveillance. What are your thoughts about Google’s Project Dragonfly? Share with us through the comment section.