Report of Google Dragonfly sparks human rights concerns

The Intercept reports, based on leaked documents, that Google plans to launch a censored search engine called Dragonfly, in China. In the article, author Ryan Gallagher states that the app ‘will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest’. Gallagher reports that this represents a clear shift in Google’s China policy, opening a path for the first Google search engine in China in almost a decade. According to the article, websites blocked by the Great Firewall will be removed from the first page of results, although a disclaimer will explain that ‘some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements’. In their commentary Google’s Dragonfly: A Bellwether for Human Rights in the Digital Age, Sarah McKune and Ronald Deibert do not find Google’s ‘change of heart’ surprising, citing forces such as ‘the entrenchment of digital authoritarianism, among both democratic and non-democratic countries, and the rollback of human rights’. McKune and Deibert conclude by warning ‘A digitized world increasingly looks like a surveilled and censored world; options for engagement that do not compromise human rights in some form are dwindling’.