Arnold Ahlert / August 30, 2018

Google Searches — For Its Own Credibility

From China to America, the Internet’s foremost search engine stands with the totalitarians.

“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” —Google’s mission statement

That mission statement is a bald-faced lie. The company will provide Communist China with a search engine “that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest,” The Intercept reports, citing leaked company documents to bolster that assertion.

Named “Dragonfly,” its implementation was accelerated “following a December 2017 meeting between Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official, according to internal Google documents and people familiar with the plans,” The Intercept adds.

Two different versions of a custom Android app, named “Maotai” and “Longfei,” have been created by teams of Google programmers and engineers. The App has already been shown to the Chinese government, and its finalized version could be available by early 2019, pending government approval.

The move marks a complete 180 from the company’s withdrawal of its services from China in 2010, when it refused to comply with censorship demands. Moreover, Google was hardly up front about its latest move — only a few hundred of the company’s 88,000 employees were briefed about it.

That secrecy elicited a letter signed by 1,400 company employees. It was released to The New York Times and, almost comically, reveals those employees were treated almost exactly like Google intends to treat ordinary Chinese citizens. “Currently we do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment,” the letter states. “That the decision to build Dragonfly was made in secret, and progressed with the [artificial intelligence] principles in place, makes clear that the principles alone are not enough. We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table, and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we’re building.”

What they’re building is market share — and principles are the first casualty. “China has the world’s largest internet audience,” the Times adds, “but has frustrated American tech giants with content restrictions or outright blockages of services including Facebook and Instagram.”

Such roadblocks will no longer be a problem. Documents viewed by The Intercept reveal Google’s efforts are part of a “joint venture” with a partner company, presumably Chinese, because the nation’s law requires Internet providers to operate their servers and data centers in country. Google will provide that company with an “application programming interface” (API) that would allow it to expand its censorship capabilities.

China’s “Great Firewall” blocks Internet access to subjects its government deems off limits. A search that might yield such results prompts a disclaimer that states “some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements.”

Google will abide those statutes.

And while Google moves closer to China, it is moving away from the U.S. military. Last April, thousands of Google employees signed a letter protesting the company’s partnership with the Pentagon regarding “Project Maven,” an artificial intelligence program that interprets video imagery in a way that enhances targeting for drone strikes. “We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” the letter stated. Following several resignations and refusals by employees to work on the project, Google chose not to renew that contract.

But Google will help America’s foremost military adversary keep its boot on the collective necks of the Chinese people.

Google won’t completely abandon the Pentagon. Pichai published a set of guidelines forbidding the company from deploying AI that would “cause overall harm,” or weapons or other technologies that would “cause or directly facilitate injury to people,” violate “internationally accepted norms,” or “principles of international law and human rights.”

The article also listed seven principles to which the company would ostensibly adhere. “Avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias” was Number 2.

Not quite. As PJ Media columnist Paula Bolyard discovered, searching for “Trump” using Google’s “News” tab yielded a disproportionate number of left-leaning news sites compared to right-leaning ones. How disproportionate? “In fact, left-leaning sites comprised 96 percent of the total results,” Bolyard reveals. Bolyard’s investigation is anecdotal. By contrast, Can I Rank, a SEO (search engine optimization) company, conducted a test collecting more than 1,200 URLs ranking highly at the search giant’s website, using a variety of politically charged keywords or phrases. “Among our key findings were that top search results were almost 40% more likely to contain pages with a ‘Left’ or ‘Far Left’ slant than they were pages from the right,” it revealed.

And despite Google’s assertion that it is fair and balanced — using the introduction of a fact-checking mechanism in October 2016 to bolster that claim — there is, according to Can I Rank, no attempt by Google “to present multiple viewpoints on controversial political issues, and the algorithm in its current form does not return results equally distributed across the entire political spectrum.”

Last year, the EU agreed, fining Google $2.7 billion for search bias.

Google contends its algorithms have no political bias and the company would “never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment,” it said in a statement.

Columnist Roger L. Simon illuminates the bigger picture, insisting that tech giants like Google are the most dangerous monopolies ever, because “they monopolize not just our industries but our brains.” He’s right. Google’s worldwide market share is 90.46%.

President Donald Trump is furious. “Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good,” he tweeted. “They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation — will be addressed!”

It’s getting late. Last Friday, a dozen tech companies, including Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Snapchat, and Google, reportedly met to “share their tactics in preparation for the 2018 midterm elections.” Americans might wonder why such sharing is necessary, given the substantial amounts of time and money invested by each company to protect themselves individually.

Next week, Google, Facebook, and Twitter are scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg have confirmed they will attend. Google’s Pichai has declined and will send senior vice president for global affairs Kent Walker in his stead.

Senators are not amused. “This is the United States Senate, this is an important issue, and we deserve to hear from the decision-makers, not the people who carry out the decisions,” said Sen. Angus King (I-ME), who caucuses with Democrats. “I don’t normally subpoena people to be part of the solution,” stated committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). “Google chooses not to participate and being part of the solution. That’s a decision they made.”

Columnist Andrew Klavan believes Americans also have a decision to make: “Do we want to preserve American liberty and the constitutional machinery that maintains that liberty — or not?” he asks.

His answer? Only half the country’s on board. “To my mind, our news media, our academies, the corporate culture of Silicon Valley, and the Democrat Party have all lost the plot of American liberty,” he writes. “They believe in socialism. They believe in a disarmed populace. They believe in ruling through the judiciary. And they believe in censorship of ideas they don’t like.”

And from China to America, Google is with the totalitarians — every step of the way.

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