Google is against the ‘war industry’.

Via The Federalist:

Should Google change its famous motto “Don’t be evil” to something like “Don’t be evil when it’s convenient, but it’s okay to be evil when it means new markets and more profit?” The question is pertinent, because The Intercept has reported that Google plans to launch a censored version of its search engine in China in the next six to eight months, pending the approval of Chinese regulators.

China already has one of the world’s worst records on internet freedom. The Chinese government has built a large army of censors to scrub the internet to their liking in real time. Under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government has further tightened its control over its people’s right to free expression. Chinese censors cast a very wide net of control. Whether it’s The Wall Street Journal site or the image of Winnie the Pooh, whether it’s a serious topic or something funny — anything the government doesn’t like, or any phrase or images even remotely associated to anything the government doesn’t like, is either banned, blocked or simply disappears.

For example, after Liu Xiaobo, China’s first Nobel Peace Prize laureate and a human rights warrior, passed away last year, news reports of his death and any searches for Liu’s Chinese name or his English initials LXB were blocked. The term “RIP,” a candle emoji and even a picture of an empty chair were banned on China’s equivalent of Twitter. Chinese people who dare to challenge censorship are quickly detained by local police. This shows how far China is willing to go in censorship.

Increasingly, the Chinese government has extended its censorship and oppression of its people beyond China’s borders. From Singapore to the U.S., the Chinese are increasingly fearful of criticizing Beijing.

Once upon a time, Google modeled itself as a champion for freedom of expression. According to the company’s old code of conduct, its famous motto “Don’t be evil” is “about providing our users unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services that we can.”

Only eight years ago, Google shut down its search engine on mainland China, over the Chinese government’s control of online freedom and an alleged intrusion into several Chinese human rights activists’ Gmail accounts. Back then, Google’s actions won wide praise for its moral stand and for living up to its “Don’t be evil” motto. Brave Chinese took great risk to leave flowers and chocolates in front of Google’s Beijing office.

But with 700 million active internet users, China is probably such a big market that Google figures that it can’t afford to be out for too long. In order to get back into China, Google has been working on this censored Chinese search engine, code-name “Dragonfly” for more than a year. The search engine will blacklist websites and search terms on human rights, democracy, religion and any other issues deemed sensitive by the Chinese government. Google also developed Chinese version search engine apps that will “automatically identify and filter websites blocked by the Great Firewall,” and will “blacklist sensitive queries so that ‘no results will be shown” at all when people enter certain words or phrases.” Such kowtowing to Beijing is a betrayal to millions of Chinese internet users.

The Intercept reported that Google has already presented these censored search engine apps to their Chinese overlords. The censored search engine project is not the first time Google has made an attempt to return to the Chinese market. Google established its artificial intelligence (AI) China Center in Beijing in 2017. The company introduced a mini-game powered by AI on WeChat, a popular messaging and social network platform of Tencent Holdings, a Chinese homegrown technology company.

Since Google and its subsidiary, YouTube, controls about a 90 percent of market share of worldwide internet searches, the Chinese government is only too happy to have such a powerful technology company to help them manipulate information and enhance their oppression over Chinese people. There is no doubt China will use Google as an example to pressure other foreign companies to join its unholy alliance. Patrick Poon, a Hong Kong based member of Amnesty International, told the Intercept, “It will set a terrible precedent for many other companies who are still trying to do business in China while maintaining the principles of not succumbing to China’s censorship.”

While Google has no problem bending its knee to authoritarians, it refuses to help the U.S. military. In early June, Google announced it wouldn’t renew a contract to do artificial intelligence work for the U.S. military after some strong opposition from its employees. The kind of work Google does with the Pentagon involves “using machine learning and engineering talent to distinguish people and objects in drone videos.” Worrying that Google’s AI work with the Pentagon may lead to development of lethal weapons, about 4,000 Google employees signed an open letter saying working with the U.S. military was putting users’ trust at risk, as well as ignoring its “moral and ethical responsibility.” Google’s senior management was also reportedly deeply conflicted about Google’s work with the Pentagon.

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HT: Tuskers