As Internet companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google (through subsidiary YouTube) and Twitter jack up their efforts to censor conservatives’ speech, most recently by deleting projects and accounts of alt-media personality Alex Jones, they are at the same time opening the doors wide to communists.
Last week Google apparently reversed course on availability its powerful search engine, which based on “principle” had withdrawn from China in 2010, after it refused to comply with the government’s wishes for it to self-censor content sensitive to its freedom-hating leaders. Now, under a program called “Dragonfly,” Google is said to be developing a version of its search engine that would comply with Chinese demands.
Search is where Google generates huge profits, and missing out on the massive market in Asia clearly bugs them in Silicon Valley.
“Google is waking up to smell the coffee,” said Andy Mok, founder and president of Beijing-based consultancy Red Pagoda Resources, to Reuters. “Not being in China is a huge strategic miscalculation. The liberals of this world obviously will recoil at the idea.”
Those on the left aren’t the only ones. U.S. Senators from both major political parties sent a letter on Friday to Google CEO Sundar Pichai that expressed “grave concerns” over the reported plans to re-introduce search services in China.
“It is a coup for the Chinese government and Communist Party to force Google—the biggest search engine in the world—to comply with their onerous censorship requirements, and sets a worrying precedent for other companies seeking to do business in China without compromising their core values,” co-wrote Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
The sources of the leak about the initiative were the journalistically mysterious “people familiar with the situation,” but the reports were widespread enough to get the attention of the senators. Internal company documents obtained by The Intercept revealed a custom app for Google’s Android phone that “will comply with the country’s strict censorship laws.” Currently the company’s search engine is blocked by China’s Great Firewall (yes, that’s what it’s called).
The country’s Internet users currently cannot access Western news sites, information resources such as Wikipedia, or social media such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. According to The Intercept, based on Google documents said to be marked “confidential:”
When a person carries out a search, banned websites will be removed from the first page of results, and a disclaimer will be displayed stating that “some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements.” Examples cited in the documents of websites that will be subject to the censorship include those of British news broadcaster BBC and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
The search app will also “blacklist sensitive queries” so that “no results will be shown” at all when people enter certain words or phrases, the documents state. The censorship will apply across the platform: Google’s image search, automatic spell check and suggested search features will incorporate the blacklists, meaning that they will not recommend people information or photographs the government has banned.
Not surprisingly, some Google employees who have embraced the company’s principle “don’t be evil,” are upset (which is likely why the Dragonfly development was outed).
“How enabling mass politically-directed censorship of (AI-enabled) search isn’t a violation of Article 19 & in turn a violation of Google’s pledge not to build tech that ‘contravenes widely accepted principles of…human rights’ is a mystery indeed,” wrote company researcher Meredith Whittaker in a now-deleted tweet, according to The Verge.
And Amnesty International – which has been similarly critical of Apple’s plans to comply with China censorship by placing customers’ data on servers controlled by the government – urged Google to reconsider.
“It will be a dark day for internet freedom if Google has acquiesced to China’s extreme censorship rules to gain market access,” wrote Patrick Poon, Amnesty’s China researcher. “It is impossible to see how such a move is compatible with Google’s ‘Do the right thing’ motto, and we are calling on the company to change course…
“In putting profits before human rights, Google would be setting a chilling precedent and handing the Chinese government a victory. This also raises serious questions as to what safeguards Google is putting in place to protect users’ privacy. Would Google rollover and hand over personal data should the Chinese authorities request it?”
If the demands of the Communists running the country are the same as with Apple (why wouldn’t they be?), the answer is certainly “yes.” Already China’s own search engine, Baidu, is widely used, and there would be no reason to introduce a competitor if it wasn’t going to meet the country’s censorship demands.
Meanwhile Google and subsidiary YouTube continue their censorship of conservatives in the United States. Improving the bottom line and broadening your customer reach only matter when you can pick-and-choose the voices you want heard, apparently.