With rumors that technology giant Google will secretly continue to deploy a search engine project with censorship attached to China, many people are worried about the future of the Internet in the country.
Brandon Downey, a former security group member at Google and author of An Old Approach to China, believes strongly that the company should not bow to the Chinese government. No matter how great the benefits are.
“Dragonfly project will not take off”
When news of the censored search engine Dragonfly broke out last year, Brandon was very disappointed with Google.
“You will not be able to make knowledge information universally accessible and useful around the world by bragging against dictators; You will contribute to that problem if you do so. It was Google who did this once, then broke down, but in the end the company did the right thing. So I hope this story is wrong, ”he wrote on his personal Twitter page.
Google had previously tried to re-enter the Chinese market in 2006 by providing search engines with censorship. Brandon is part of the team tasked with conducting activities here, which he always regrets. Google argues that even if they have to censor to work in China, it is better to do so because “our censorship is minimal.”
The company believes that by providing some information to the public, Chinese people will eventually want to know more about the outside world than what the government allows them to know, thus paving the way for China to become a liberal democracy like Western nations.
However, Google has faced a wave of backlash from Internet activists worldwide. In addition, ridiculous censorship requests from the Chinese government and cyberattacks from within China have finally made Google realize that this venture is not worth their headache. Therefore, Google withdrew from China in 2010.
A few years later, Google tried to return to China. Because the country with a rapid rate of economic growth with billions of people is a very attractive market that Google cannot ignore again. This is why the Dragonfly project was started. Although the company’s executives claim that the project has been shut down due to pressure from employees and human rights activists, many still believe that Google is secretly pursuing the project and possibly they gave it another name. Brandon felt this was an irresponsible act.
“We have a responsibility to the world in the field where our technology is active and effective. If we build a tool and deliver it to people who will use it to harm others, our job is to try to prevent this, or at least, not help it. Of course, technology can be a force for good, but it’s not a magic bullet – it’s more like a laser and it depends on what we use it for. What we cannot do is to collaborate, then hope that it will have a happy ending, ”he said in an article.
Over the past few years, the Chinese government has intensified control over the Internet. In 2017, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China passed a law prohibiting the trading of any tools to circumvent any Internet (such as VPN) without the Ministry’s approval. As a result, a crackdown on VPN services and providers (Virtual Private Network, a censorship dealing tool) has been implemented shortly thereafter.
“In July, Apple removed dozens of VPNs from its App Store in China, citing the reason that they were subject to government regulations. In August, the China Cyber Administration (CAC) requested 5 websites, including the shopping giant Alibaba, to remove VPN providers. In September, the police arrested Zhen Jianghua, the activist and founder of a website that teaches people how to overcome Internet censorship, ” according to Human Rights Watch.
With severely restricted VPN access, citizens who have visited foreign news sites have now been left in the dark when not knowing what is really happening in China and above. world. Currently, the only news source they can access is state-approved media channels.