The Citizen Lab’s Ron Deibert and Sarah McKune don’t mince words in a recent op-ed for Just Security about Google’s plan to create a search engine that conforms to China’s demand for censorship. By taking a historical perspective to Google’s past interactions with China and the dramatically shifting landscape for human rights in the digital age, they argue that Dragonfly– the name of the proposed China-based search engine– exemplifies the tightening of authoritarian control over Internet freedoms.
“Regardless of whether the project proceeds, Dragonfly is yet another clear warning that the ground has shifted for proponents of human rights in the digital age. 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. Counter-norms, providing models through which both companies and governments ensure “human rights by design,” are urgently required. We hope that it is not too late for Google to again push back against the global digital trends undermining human rights.”