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Google urges its employees to delete memo revealing its plan to launch search engine in China

Authored by a Google engineer familiar with the project, the memo disclosed that the search system would require users in China to log in to perform searches. 

Edited by: India TV News Desk, San Francisco [ Published on: September 22, 2018 13:00 IST ]
  The China search engine would link users' search history

 

The China search engine would link users' search history to their personal phone numbers, according to the memo.

Tech-giant Google on Saturday sent a mail asking its employees to delete the memo revealing information about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China.

Authored by a Google engineer familiar with the project, the memo disclosed that the search system would require users in China to log in to perform searches. 

Code-named Dragonfly, the search engine would track the location of users and share the data with a Chinese partner who would have "unilateral access" to the data, said 'The Intercept' report on Friday, citing the memo. 

The news about Google's plan to build a censored search engine in China broke in August when The Intercept reported that the search platform would blacklist "sensitive queries" about topics including politics, free speech, democracy, human rights and peaceful protest, triggering internal protests among some Google employees. 

Two weeks after that report, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the company's employees that the China plan was in its "early stages" and "exploratory". 

A group of Google employees who were organising internal protests over the censored search system got access to the memo detailing information about the project. 

The Google leadership, according to the The Intercept report, were furious when they discovered that the memo was being passed among employees who were not supposed to know about about the Dragonfly project. 

The China search engine would link users' search history to their personal phone numbers, according to the memo.

This means if security agencies were to obtain the search records from Google, individual people could easily be tracked and users seeking out information banned by the government could potentially be at risk of interrogation or detention.

Earlier this month, Pichai was summoned by US senators on Google's plan to create a censored Chinese version of its search engine.

The letter asks Mr. Pichai to clarify elements reported by The Intercept, including whether Google is developing a search engine or any other censored products for China, as well as if the company plans on complying with the nation’s stringent cybersecurity and data localisation laws.

China banned Google in 2010 after the company said it would refuse to comply with Chinese censorship requests and not filter the content shown to users querying its search engine from domestic internet connections.

China is home to 772 million Internet users -- the biggest online community in the world.

Google, which has hundreds of people working in China, has launched its Artificial Intelligence lab in the country.

 

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