Google Now Purging Copies of Memo Revealing Its Secret China Project

Bombshell internal doc alleged the search giant would enable Chinese gov't spying and censorship.

Google China (Photo credit: Flickr)
Google China (Photo credit: Flickr)

Google’s controversial plan to create a censored and surveillance-friendly version of its search engine for the Chinese market continues to ripple through the company. In an attempt at damage control, Google has now undertaken a campaign to suppress or destroy copies of the internal memo about its secret project, The Intercept reports.

The so-called Dragonfly memo, named after Google’s confidential moniker for the project, rocked the tech world when details of it were released by The Intercept in early August. The memo, written by a Google engineer, explained how users’ private search terms and personal information were to be tracked online and shared with a unnamed Chinese partner who would have “universal access” to the database. Google’s new search tool for China would likewise pre-emptively censor results around topics like human rights, free speech, and peaceful protest—terms that are considered controversial by China’s ruling Communist Party.

To combat the story and prevent further leaks, Google has been aggressively policing its own employees.

“The memo was first posted September 5 on an internal messaging list set up for Google employees to raise ethical concerns,” The Intercept reports. “But the memo was soon scrubbed from the list and individuals who had opened or saved the document were contacted by Google’s human resources department to discuss the matter. The employees were instructed not to share the memo.”


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