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Google Officially Ends Controversial Dragonfly Project

What Is Project Dragonfly? Google has been widely criticized for Project Dragonfly, a project to develop a search engine available in China. Former employees called the project “disturbing” and...

(Photo Credit: Soohee Cho/The Intercept)

What Is Project Dragonfly?

Google has been widely criticized for Project Dragonfly, a project to develop a search engine available in China. Former employees called the project “disturbing” and said it would be used as a tool for the Chinese government to censor search results and monitor Chinese citizens’ online activity. Now, Google is announcing they’ve officially called off the project.

Karan Bhatia, Google’s vice president of public policy, told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that Google had “terminated” the project.

In 2018, a Google employee assigned to Project Dragonfly sent a memo to his colleagues detailing some disturbing aspects of Project Dragonfly, saying it would result in censorship and repression in China. Google instructed employees to delete the memo from their computers.

The whistle-blowing employee, Jack Paulson, alleged that Project Dragonfly was developing “A prototype interface designed to allow a Chinese joint venture company to search for a given user’s search queries based on their phone number…[as well as] an extensive censorship blacklist developed in accordance with Chinese government demands. Among others, it contained the English term ‘human rights,’ the Mandarin terms for ‘student protest’ and ‘Nobel prize’, and very large numbers of phrases involving ‘Xi Jinping’ and other members of the CCP.”

Paulson also alleged that search terms that affect residents of China, such as “air quality,” would only return government-approved Internet content.

Luckily, the backlash against Project Dragonfly has worked, and the project is dead for now.

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