According to news reports this week, leaked documents exposed that Google is building a censored search engine platform for China. Under this project, codenamed ‘Dragonfly,’ Google is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will restrict and censor websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, freedom, religion and protest. With this decision, Google has turned its back on freedom and human rights in order to appease the Chinese dictatorship, putting scores of Tibetans, Uyghurs and Chinese human rights activists at risk of imprisonment. We are appalled that a company whose mission was to connect the world through information plans to carry out the world’s most ambitious campaign to suppress freedom, distort information, and divide the internet
Back in 2006, Google’s launch of a censored platform in China was criticized globally by many groups, including SFT. By 2010, due to breach of Chinese activists’ emails, growing pressure from internal staff and increasing worldwide criticism and pressure, Google announced it was “no longer willing to continue censoring” results on their China website and pulled out of China. Google’s own co-founder Sergey Brin stated at the time that his experience of living under a repressive regime with limited political freedom had affected both his own outlook and that of Google and resulted in this decision. The larger conscientious world breathed a sigh of relief that an internet giant stood up to tyranny, but it was not to last.
The project ‘Dragonfly’ will have an immense negative impact on freedom and human rights in Tibet and China. The Chinese people, and Tibetans and Uyghurs want an undivided internet and free access to information, while the CCP wants to keep this whole fifth of humanity under the yoke of censorship. As Tibetans and supporters who have been regularly targeted by the Chinese government, as activists who work closely with those who are vulnerable online, we condemn project ‘Dragonfly’ and demand that Google immediately halt this project and refrain from joining the forces of tyranny and censorship in China.