Google’s China version will link search history to phone nu…

NEW DELHI: Tech giant Google has once again grabbed eyeballs over its project in China that reportedly will link a user’s search history to the phone number.

A deal with the devil: Despite CEO Sundar Pichai telling his employees that Google’s entry to China “is all very unclear”, The Intercept reports that the Dragonfly — the codename for the China search engine — would link a user’s searches to the personal phone number, thus making it easier for the government to monitor people’s queries.

The search engine designed for Android phones will also blacklist many search tags, including “human rights”, “student protest” and “Nobel Prize” in Mandarin — Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, while being imprisoned by China; he died in jail last year.

The latest report says the search engine app on the smartphone will couple the search to the phone number — and thus identity. This would allow “detailed tracking and profiling of people’s behaviour,” said Cynthia Wong of Human Rights Watch.

Also, the search engine will be run by a joint venture with a Chinese company, and the JV can update the blacklist.

After the initial report on Google’s possible entry to China, hundreds of Google employees wrote a signed letter saying the project “raise urgent moral and ethical issues”. A group of 14 organisations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders, too, wrote an open letter to Pichai decrying the “capitulation by Google”.

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