Google’s Chinese search engine contributes to active censorship

Get a free Techzine subscription!

Google has developed a prototype for a search engine suitable for the Chinese market. The search engine links jobs to personal phone numbers, making it easier for the Chinese government to keep an eye on users.

The search engine, called Dragonfly, is designed for Android devices. This automatically removes content of which the government in China is not a fan, such as political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights and protest movements. The Intercept reports this on the basis of sources within Google.

Black list

Google has created a black list of certain search terms for Dragonfly. These include terms such as human rights, student protests and the Nobel Prize. This would filter and censor searches in such a way that the Chinese government could agree to them. In this way, Google hopes that its product will be allowed back on the market.

There is a lot of criticism of Google from human rights groups. According to them, Dragonfly ensures that Google contributes directly, or at least implicitly, to human rights violations. An extra concern is that Google builds up an extensive database containing all searches and makes it searchable for the Chinese authorities. That would potentially complicate the work of journalists and activists.

Active censorship

The intention is that the search engine will be maintained as a joint venture between Google and a Chinese company. People who work for the joint-venture would be able to update the blacklist of keywords. The question is to what extent Google still has influence on the precise censorship that takes place within Dragonfly.

Dragonfly would also give the Chinese government the option to display certain things as it wishes. For example, emissions figures would be replaced by figures from the Chinese government, which in the past has more often given wrong figures. Within the United States, politicians are now asking questions about Google’s Chinese activities.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.