Liz Fong-Jones is a Site Reliability Engineer for Google's cloud division; she took to Twitter after reading today's story in The Intercept in which ex-Google security engineer Yonatan Zunger and three current, unnamed Google Security and Privacy staff describe how they were sidelined and deceived in the rush to ship Project Dragonfly, Google's secret, censored, surveilling Chinese search engine.
Read the rest “Google engineer calls for a walkout over China censorship and raises $200K strike fund in hours”
Google's Project Dragonfly is a formerly secret project to build a surveilling, censored version of its search engine for deployment in China; it was kept secret from the company at large during the 18 months it was in development, until an insider leak led to its existence being revealed in The Intercept.
Read the rest “Google's secret project to build a censored Chinese search engine bypassed the company's own security and privacy teams”
Jack Poulson is one of several googlers to quit the company over Project Dragonfly, the company's secret plan to launch a Chinese search tool that will incorporate state surveillance and censorship on behalf of China's authoritarian government.
Read the rest “Detailed look at Google's secret, censored, spying Chinese search tool”
Google's Project Dragonfly was a secret prototype search engine intended to pave the way for the company's return to China; it featured censored search results that complied with Chinese state rules banning searches for topics like "human rights," "student protest" and "Nobel prize."
Read the rest “Google's censored Chinese search engine links every search to the user's phone number”
Jack Poulson was a research scientist at Google whose work on machine learning work was used to improve Google's search results; now he's quit the company over its Project Dragonfly, a once-secret plan to launch a censored Chinese search engine; Poulson called the move a "forfeiture of our values."
Read the rest “Machine learning scientist quits Google over plan to launch censored Chinese search tool”
Over 1,000 Google employees have signed a petition urging senior management to reconsider the company's plan to launch a censored Chinese search product (codename: Dragonfly), a revolt that's been in the works since the news broke; the employees demand transparency about the project and point out that it violates the Association of Computing Machinery's code of ethics.
Read the rest “1,000 Googlers sign petition opposing Google's plan to launch a censored Chinese search engine”
For years, the big social media platforms have used their market dominance to decide who could speak and on what terms: they forced drag queens and trans people to use their "real" names; kicked Black Lives Matter activists off their platforms; and allowed autocratic rulers to force opposition activists to expose themselves to arrest and torture as a condition of using their platforms.
Read the rest “American Conservative laments market concentration and private property as bad for free expression”
Project Dragonfly is a secret Google plan to create an Android-based search tool (early versions were called "Maotai" and "Longfei") for use in China (where Google is currently blocked), in collaboration with the Chinese government, where search results related to human rights, democracy, protest, religion and other "sensitive" topics will be censored.
Read the rest “Leaked documents reveal Google's plan to create a censored search engine for the Chinese market”
In the 1970s, the CIA created a dragonfly-shaped drone that carried a microphone, with the goal of using it to snoop on remote targets. It was a pretty ingenious piece of engineering: propelled by a liquid fuel and guided by a laser, it actually achieved flight in a few tests. The CIA has released footage of one here:
The drone didn't maneuver very well, though, as IEEE Spectrum notes:
Unfortunately, even the gentlest breeze blew the 1-gram Insectothopter off course. It’s unclear if the laser guidance and data link were ever implemented. In any event, the UAV never flew an actual spy mission.
Why fashion it after that particular insect?
Dragonflies are nimble aerialists, able to hover, glide, and even fly backward. They can turn 180 degrees in three wingbeats. The Insectothopter’s 6-centimeter-long body and 9-cm wingspan were well within the range of an actual dragonfly’s dimensions. Plus, dragonflies are native to every continent except Antarctica, so their presence would be unremarkable, at least in the appropriate season.
Me, I wonder if the CIA designers had another influence: The sci-fi YA novel Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy. It came out in 1974 -- right around the time that the CIA was making that invention -- and it's the story of an inventor who creates a dragonfly-shaped drone that contains a tiny camera and microphone, and is piloted by a user who wears a VR-style headset.
I wrote about the novel a few years ago, because it was amazingly prescient about the civil dangers of omnipresent high-tech governmental spying ... Read the rest “The CIA's 1970s-era "Insectothopter" spy drone”
Hacker takeovers of power infrastructure have been seen in Ukraine (where they are reliably attributed to Russian state actors), but now the US power-grid has been compromised by hackers of unknown origin, who have "switch-flipping" control -- that is, they can just turn it all off. Read the rest “Unknown hackers have gained near-total control over some US power generation companies”