‘Don’t Be Evil’: Google Cancels Controversial Chinese Search Engine Project

Google is apparently abandoning its attempt to create a search engine for the Chinese market -- an effort that both tarnished its public image and caused massive internal conflict.

The communist Chinese government wanted a search engine that would censor information and infringe upon the privacy of its citizens. Google’s attempted to cooperate, and company head Sundar Pichai had tried to defend the project in its earlier stages, appealing to the fact that they are merely “complying with the law” of China.

The problem, critics inside and outside Google pointed out, is that complying with the laws of an oppressive communist regime is at odds with the company’s core values, famously summed up in its now dropped motto: “Don't be evil.”

Part of what made the search engine seem so heinous was the fact it attached phone numbers to Chinese citizen’s searches, helping the government identify political dissidents.

Organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and others had signed an open letter condemning the project and requesting that it be stopped dead in its tracks. Former employee Jack Poulson released a similar condemnation with his resignation letter, stating “I view our intent to capitulate to censorship and surveillance demands in exchange for access to the Chinese market as a forfeiture of our values and governmental negotiating position across the globe.”

Sundar Pichai announced repeatedly before the House Judiciary Committee last week that there were “no plans” to launch Dragonfly or any similar product in China for the time being, a statement which appears to be true, for the moment.

The same company that had proudly refused to work with the Pentagon had been far more willing to collude with the Chinese Communist regime … until public outcry truly brought this project crashing down.

Foreign Policy China Google

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