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Google faces protests over censored China search engine 'Project Dragonfly'

Several Google employees citing a lack of corporate transparency in the wake of the censored search engine project

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China censorship | Google

IANS  |  San Francisco 

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Google's offices in the US, UK, Canada, India, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark witnessed renewed protests by human rights groups over its plan to re-enter China through a censored search application code-named "Project Dragonfly".

The demonstrations were organised by a coalition of Chinese, Tibetan, Uighur, and human rights groups outside the tech giant's offices. The Tibetan advocacy groups that were protesting included Free Tibet and the Tibet Network.

"They fear that a censored search engine would lead to further oppression of the Tibetans, as filtered searches would erase terms such as 'Tibet' and 'Tiananmen Square' in line with the official narrative of the Chinese Communist Party," the Business Insider reported late on Friday.

The same concerns apply to the Chinese citizens, including other oppressed minorities such as Uighur Muslims and Southern Mongolian people, the report added.

The Internet giant designed a censored version for China search engine to blacklist information about human rights, democracy, peaceful protest, and religion in accordance with strict rules on censorship in the country that are enforced by its Communist Party government.

The dispute began in August 2018 when reports surfaced that staffers working on "Project Dragonfly" had been using a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for the censored search engine, which was designed to block out broad categories of information related to democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest, according to The Intercept.

Several employees, including former Senior Scientist Jack Poulson, resigned in September, citing a lack of corporate transparency in the wake of the censored search engine project.

In December, was forced to shut down a data analysis system that it was using to develop the search engine and the teams working on "Project Dragonfly" stopped gathering search queries from mainland China.

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First Published: Sat, January 19 2019. 14:12 IST
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