Google will not drop Dragonfly project for China, rejects human rights inquiry of 'censorship engine'

Sundar Pichai, and Alphabet Inc. send mixed messages, 'No plans for China now' but definitely someday

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(Pixabay image, modified)

(Pixabay image, modified)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, in an interview with CNN on June 17, declared that the company has no current plans to launch the “censorship engine” being developed for the Chinese market.

On Wednesday (June 19), at a shareholder’s meeting of parent company Alphabet Inc., Google's senior vice-president of Global Affairs, Kent Walker, echoed Pichai’s comments stating that the company has no plans to work on the censored search engine known as “Dragonfly.”

However, reports about the proceedings at the shareholder meeting send some mixed messages. Namely, the company has rebuffed a resolution put forth by shareholders calling for a total halt to Dragonfly’s development, and to explore potential company restructuring.

The resolution observed that Google’s “reputation has been damaged by allegations that it collaborated with the Chinese government to censor searches in China and expand China’s cyber-surveillance of its citizens.” Lisa Lindsley, Capital Markets Advisor for SumOfUs, which put forth the resolution to explore restructuring, and to cease involvement with the Chinese search engine observed the following.

“We believe that Alphabet’s subsidiary Google continues to work on developing a search engine that censors blacklisted words and assists in the cyber-surveillance of citizens in collaboration with the government of China, codenamed ‘Project Dragonfly’. It is time for the board of directors to look at strategic alternatives to the company’s current structure.”

According to Techcrunch, another resolution called for a human rights impact assessment of the Dragonfly project, but both ultimately failed to pass at the meeting.

The resolution on the human rights impact assessment was brought before shareholders by Azzad Asset Management. Their Communications Director Joshua Brockwell said the following, as reported by Street Insider.

"The Chinese government already employs invasive, data-driven surveillance to track its citizens. The potential for it to weaponize data from Google searches could allow the government to expand its human rights abuses, including mass detentions of the Uighur minority. We have grave concerns about Alphabet possibly re-entering the Chinese market."

Despite the statements of Pichai and Walker, Google openly opposed both resolutions and both were rejected at the shareholders meeting. Alphabet’s proxy statement from the shareholder’s meeting can be read here.