Google forced to kill project dragonfly

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Fazeel Ashraf
IT graduate from Pakistan’s National University of Science and Technology with a passion for writing. When not reading or writing, I can be found listening to rock and metal or playing some classic jams on my electric guitar. I’m also a big fan of horror movies.

Google was forced to stop its work on project Dragonfly. Project Dragonfly was the censored version of its search engine the company was developing for China. Google had to shelve the project after members of the company’s privacy team objected to the work. This is according to The Intercept.

Project Dragonfly constantly proved a thorn in Google’s way. Many people opposed the idea of Google developing a censored search engine. Majority of individuals opposed this idea because it encouraged censorship and surveillance.

If project Dragonfly had gone through, it would just have been another addition to China’s unfair surveillance of its citizen and an addition to its already despicable human right violations.

Many NGOs and human rights workers have greeted this news with utter joy, but Amnesty International wasn’t happy with Google’s reason for dropping the project. Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo was disappointed with the reason behind the move.

Naidoo said,

“It’s worrying that these reports suggest that Project Dragonfly has been shelved due to discrepancies over internal process, rather than over human rights concerns.”

Intercepts sources suggest that Google executives faced a lot of criticism and had to discard the project at least for the time being.

200 Google employees had written an open letter to the company telling the search giant to shut down project Dragonfly.  Additionally, 1400 Google engineers requested the company to improve its practices for other controversial projects, one of which was Dragonfly.

It was this kind of backlash the company faced which forced it to kill the project. Google was put under further pressure by the privacy team, who reportedly weren’t allowed to attend meetings on Dragonfly. The issue arose when Google purchased the Chinese domain 265.com

Google used the site to spy on its Chinese rival Baidu. Google learned about China’s Internet censorship rules. The company found out which Chinese sites were blacklisted through 265.com. Google decided to work on project Dragonfly once it had enough information about the Chinese market.

Issues arose while monitoring Chinese users’ search queries. Search queries are analyzed under careful surveillance by the privacy team at Google. When top executives decided to exclude the team from having access to 265.com’s API, that’s when things started going downhill for project Dragonfly.

Google gave access to the API to just one engineer. Now no one has access to it, so the project is good as dead.

Google had acquired 265.com in 2008, so the project was undergoing for approximately the last ten years. Many top executives had given high priority to the project. Google was about to enter foreign lands with it.

It wanted to please the Chinese government and respect its censorship laws by custom tailoring a search engine that filled all their needs.

Google flew too close to the sun, and now it is paying for its consequences. Human rights activists and NGOs rightfully protested project Dragonfly, because of its political and social consequences. Employees at big corporations should be fighting for their rights more often and should always stand for the truth and right of freedom of others.

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