Google defeats shareholders on ‘Dragonfly’ censored search in China

A shareholder resolution aimed at halting Google’s efforts to bring a censored version of its search engine to China has failed.

Shareholders tabled a resolution to demand Google put the brakes on its controversial search engine efforts in China. The program, internally dubbed “Dragonfly,” is said to be a censorship-friendly search engine with the capability to hide results at the behest of Beijing, which administers one of the most restrictive internets in the world.

The project remains largely secret, amid an internal upheaval and political pressure from the Trump administration over the project, but was later acknowledged by Google chief Sundar Pichai, describing China as an “important” market.

The resolution, which failed to pass during the meeting, would have instructed Google to conduct and publish a human rights impact assessment examining the impacts of a censored Google search engine in China.

It’s not immediately known what was the breakdown of the vote.

“The Chinese government already employs invasive, data-driven surveillance to track its citizens,” said Joshua Brockwell, an investment communications director at Azzad Asset Management, which supports the resolution. “The potential for it to weaponize data from Google searches could allow the government to expand its human rights abuses, including mass detentions of the Uighur minority.”

Among recent crackdowns, China has come under international pressure in the past year for targeting Uighur Muslims and holding more than a million in detention.

Google opposes the resolution, saying in its proxy statement: “Google has been open about its desire to increase its ability to serve users in China and other countries. We have considered a variety of options for how to offer services in China in a way that is consistent with our mission and have gradually expanded our offerings to consumers in China, including Google Translate.”

Open Mic, a nonprofit representing shareholders worth $3 billion in Google assets, brought the resolution.

Capital Research & Management Company, the shareholder in the top 10 with the least amount of shares, still has $3.9 billion in stock.