Google wants the world’s information to be universally accessible, unless that information just so happens to relate to its reported efforts to build a censored Chinese search engine that tracks its users.
According to the Intercept, which first broke the story of the project codenamed Dragonfly in early August, the Mountain View-based search and advertising giant is going to great lengths to keep information about its plans secret â even from its own employees.Â
The latest example of the company’s attempt to squash even internal debate about the heavily criticized plans comes in the form of an internal memo. Specifically, the forced deletion of it. The memo, reportedly written by a Google engineer, detailed how the Chinese search engine would track users’ locations, force them to login, and give “unilateral access” to a third-party Chinese partner.
The Chinese government has a well known history of going after journalists, human rights workers, and dissidents. Knowing what everyone in the country is Googling would seem to be another potential tool in Beijing’s repressive tool belt.Â
The aforementioned memo allegedly provided details on the search engine, and was passed around by various engineers. When Google found out, the Intercept reports, its human resources department went into overdrive in an attempt to limit the memo’s spread.Â
This effort included emailing everyone who had seen the document, and demanding they delete any saved copies.Â
Maybe the company was afraid we would find out that, according to the memo, its Chinese search engine would allow a partner in China to “selectively edit search result pages â¦ unilaterally, and with few controls seemingly in place.â
We reached out to Google in an effort to confirm both the Intercept’s reporting of the memo’s content, and the news that Google forced employees to delete it. We received no response as of press time.Â
It’s almost as if Google believes that its own mission statement, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” doesn’t apply to its own heavily criticized plans.Â