Google Will Link Searches to Personal Phone Numbers in China

Google Will Link Searches to Personal Phone Numbers in China

As of right now, more than 1,000 Google employees, six USA senators and at least fourteen human rights groups have expressed their concerns on the topic.

To do so, though, they need to comply with the whims of Chinese authorities.

The context: Last month, a whistleblower told The Intercept that Google is building a search engine that will blacklist terms like "human rights" or "Tiananmen Square" to please the Chinese government.

According to sources familiar with the project, Dragonfly would be operated as part of a "joint venture" partnership with a company based in mainland China and people working for this venture would have the capability to update the blacklists of the search terms, the report added.

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"This is very problematic from a privacy point of view, because it would allow far more detailed tracking and profiling of people's behaviour", said Cynthia Wong, a senior internet researcher with charity Human Rights Watch. According to the same sources, Dragonfly includes a built-in system meant to supplant the actual weather and air pollution data with a set of government-provided information, possibly enabling Beijing to manipulate data about the country's real pollution plight. Air pollution in Beijing is disastrous, with the city consistently ranking among the places with the worst air quality in China. We know Google is seeking out help from its partners to advocate its Search comeback to China. This information was quickly debunked by a publication close to the Chinese government.

The government has at times tried to hide data contradicting official air pollution measurements from the public, and it seems that the Dragonfly prototype would only show approved numbers. On Thursday, 16 USA lawmakers wrote to Google CEO Sundar Pichai expressing "serious concerns" about Dragonfly and demanding information about the company's China plans. Also according to NBC, Google research scientist Jack Poulson resigned on Thursday over what he said was Google not honoring a commitment to human rights.

This week, a bipartisan group of 16 members of the House asked the company for more answers.

The search engine giant had launched a search engine in China in 2006 but pulled the service out of the country in 2010, citing Chinese government efforts to limit free speech and block websites.

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