An internal Google memo seems to have leaked revealing details of how Google, and most likely the Chinese government, will follow users of its Chinese search engine. For example, used IP addresses and links that are clicked on are logged.
The memo ended up at The Intercept. This website has already been released with details about the still unannounced Chinese version of the Google search engine. Google seems to want to make far-reaching concessions to the Chinese government, by keeping several data of its users. In addition to the used IP address and the links that are clicked on, all searches are also tracked, and the location from which the user searches.
The memo also shows that users must first log in before they can use the search engine. Earlier The Intercept reported that Chinese users should link their phone number to the search engine before they can start searching.
All information gathered would be stored on servers in Taiwan. In addition, a further unnamed Chinese company would have access to the data. It is plausible that the company in question has links with the Chinese government, so that the latter can exercise control over the use of the Google search engine.
According to The Intercept, the leakage of the memo caused great anger among the management of Google. Recipients of the memo would have been asked by the Personnel Department to remove the e-mail in question, in which they received the memo. With a tracking pixel, it would be ascertained whether the recipients had read the request.
Last month the first reports came out that Google was planning to release a censored version of its search engine into China, after a long period of no activities in the communist country. The report led to criticism from human rights organizations, after which American politicians asked Google for explanation . In an attempt to remove the concerns, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said earlier that the release of a Chinese search engine is still in an ‘exploratory phase’.