A prototype search engine designed by Google to monitor Chinese officials connects the user's phone numbers to the searches they perform, according to The Intercept.
By connecting phone numbers and searches, state sensors have been able to more easily connect Chinese citizens and residents with their online behavior. China is already monitoring traffic, blocking large sections of the wider Internet and heavy censors Chinese microblogging and social networks.
Connecting phone numbers with searches is only possible on Android phones in the current prototype.
This report adds past news, also broken by The Intercept about the search engine, the code name "Dragonfly", which eliminates results from a variety of terms and topics, such as freedom and democracy. Google has not verified any details about Dragonfly, which are not publicly available.
A Google spokesman told Fortune : "We have invested for many years to help Chinese users from developing Android through mobile apps like Google Translate and Files Go, and our developer tools. But our work The search has been exploring and we are not near to launch a search product in China. "
The Intercept also said that Dragonfly would use official Chinese sources of air quality and weather reports that are not always reliable. The US Embassy in Beijing offers its own air quality data online.
Buzzfeed News reported today on a list of seven Google employees who left the company over their disagreements with the Dragonfly search engine, some of them quite older. Over 1
Google has been working on plans to enter the Chinese search engine market, including businesses that would require a product that followed strict censorship laws and oversight. The establishment of new offices and data centers in China will also require permission and significant negotiation.
The company is still operating a Chinese-language search engine based on Hong Kong blocked in mainland China, which provides access to otherwise prohibited results. Google ended its commercial operations in Mainland China in 2010 for a number of reasons, including alleged hacking of Gmail accounts by Chinese political activists and general censorship.