This story originally appeared in The Lowdown, ABP’s weekly roundup of news, culture, holy-shit awesomeness, event updates & exclusive offers delivered straight to your inbox. Click here to subscribe.
Rule 1: If at first you don’t succeed …
Google ran a China-compliant search engine from 2006-2010, but eventually caved to U.S. public and Congressional pressure to dismantle the system that played along with “The Great Firewall,” China’s robust system for blocking information on political opponents, free speech, sex, news, academic studies, and references to “anticommunism” and “dissidents.”
Rule 2: Pretend like what you’re doing is normal
Google’s plans to build a new search engine for Android devices in China, nicknamed Dragonfly, leaked more than a month ago, but the company has refused to comment or engage with human rights organizations sounding the alarm … or reporters … or a Senate committee.
Rule 3: Cover the basics
Google has dutifully blocked search words and phrases in Mandarin that give Chinese officials the heebie-jeebies such as “human rights,” “student protest,” and “Nobel Prize.”
Rule 4: Get creative
Everyone knows advertisers and scammers are tracking our every movement online, but that’s not good enough for an authoritarian regime that wants to be able to end your career with one swipe left. Recently reported details indicate Google is working on a plan to tie searches to cellphone numbers, making it harder to mask who is searching for what. Chinese officials will also be able to add terms to the ban list and will control weather and air quality reports.
Rule 5: Don’t let pesky employees with ethics get in the way
At least five Google employees have resigned in protest, including former Google senior research scientist Jack Poulson.
“I view our intent to capitulate to censorship and surveillance demands in exchange for access to the Chinese market as a forfeiture of our values and governmental negotiating position across the globe,” Poulson wrote in his resignation letter.