Several human rights groups signed a letter [text] on Tuesday calling on Google to end its efforts to develop a censored search engine for China, code named Project Dragonfly.
The letter accuses Google of “accommodating the Chinese authorities’ repression of dissent,” which would cause Google to participate in China’s violations of freedom of expression and privacy of its internet users.
Although Google has not made public statements about Dragonfly, leaked documents state that Dragonfly will block websites and “sensitive queries,” as required by Chinese law. The human rights groups also raise concerns of the vulnerability of sensitive user information. The groups also question whether the app would meet the company’s own policies related to human rights protections.
The human rights groups are asking Google to protect whistleblowers who raise human rights concerns against Google, disclose safeguards against human rights violations that will be built into Dragonfly, and “reaffirm the company’s 2010 commitment not to provide censored search engine services in China.”
The letter was signed by the following organizations: Access Now, Amnesty International, Article 19, Center for Democracy and Technology, Committee to Protect Journalists, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, Independent Chinese PEN Centre, International Service for Human Rights, PEN International, Privacy International, Reporters Without Borders and WITNESS. The letter was also signed by four directors, professors and researchers in an individual capacity.
In September China’s Cyberspace Administration of China fined [JURIST report] several tech companies in China for failing to censor online content in accordance with China’s censorship laws. In March 2014 a US federal judge dismissed [JURIST report] a censorship lawsuit against Chinese search engine Baidu, stating that the companies filtering was “editorial judgement.” China had issued [JURIST report] more strict internet use regulations in February 2010, which many internet activists accused of tightening government control over the internet.