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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt predicts that the Internet will break in two


As many of you already know, there are big differences when we surf the Internet in China than when we do it in most other countries. In countries such as China, navigation is characterized by having a large number of restrictions and alternative platforms to the most internationally known.

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, made headlines this week after an interview in San Francisco with CNBC. He assured in this event that the future of the medium-term Internet will happen precisely by bifurcating in two: one led by the United States and another led by China.

Internet in China

The Chinese Communist government has already developed its own Internet network for its national citizens totally isolated from the usual network originating in the United States. There are many platforms and domains censored so they are totally banned from accessing those pages. To older, there are also pages that are not officially prohibited as such but they make it technically easy to access them and the operation is intermittent, thus making the users desist from trying to use them.

As a search engine, for example, most citizens use Baidu, known as the Chinese Google, with its respective version of what would be Google Drive and translator here, as well as others such as Yahoo or Bing that are also accessible.

Regarding social networks, forget about connecting easily to Twitter ( Weibo is your substitute for talking to Chinese friends), Facebook or WhatsApp (replaced by WeChat, the most popular messaging service) or to YouTube and Spotify ( Youku and Xiami are the solutions in this case). Companies such as WeChat, for example, block certain phrases, topics or even words, thus leaving popular cases such as censorship of the Tiananmen events in 1989, the prohibition of the letter Ñ or the blocking of images of Winnie The Pooh for their resemblance to Xi Jinping

It is true that, as we can see, the blocking of these pages has helped national companies to thrive in a less competitive environment, although it has been a cost to include members of the Chinese government to work in them in order to ensure compliance with the laws and, therefore, their respective restrictions.

The power of China and its new route

Schmidt highlighted the Silk Road and Belt Initiative - also known as OBOR (One Belt, One Road) or NRS (New Silk Road). This is the political-economic project promoted by the Communist Party of China proposed at the end of 2013 that aims to connect Europe, South-East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East through the Chinese economic model.

The project is based on the reconstruction of the old Silk Road and the creation of a parallel maritime route that jointly achieve the name of "Belt and Route". This revolutionary project affects more than 60 countries, thus involving 70% of the world's population and it is estimated that it can generate 55% of world GDP. The planned investment by the Chinese communist government is estimated to be about 1,400 million dollars.

Bearing this in mind, we may tend to think that the Internet bifurcation commented by Schmidt may be a more probable reality than expected and this project may allow several countries to join the Internet led by China and begin to incorporate the infrastructure it offers. China sacrificing part of freedom for other types of benefits and advantages.

Google negotiates with China for a censored search engine

We have to recognize that Schmidt already talked about the Chinese technological advance before. In November of last year, he warned the United States that it would have to step up its game to avoid being overtaken by China in artificial intelligence, and it also predicted that it could become a world leader in the industry by 2030.

One of the last polemics around this issue was played by Google precisely. It seems that the company has begun a rapprochement with this country with the aim of negotiating the launch of a censored version of the Google search engine in China that already has a name: " Project Dragonfly ". This would imply the return of the company to the Asian country, which has a market of more than 800 million users, after eight years.

Taking into account that this decision would imply that this new search engine blocks web pages and limits the freedom of users, the news did not leave indifferent to Internet users (including some of Google's own employees) who asked the company to rethink the decision through various protests

To get an idea, published reports say that the Chinese government would have full control of the restrictions can even, by way of example, modify the weather data that would be provided by an "unidentified source" and not by Google can display false data or minimize the amount of toxins in the air and their risks by offering the image that best suits them.

For now, Google has not made statements regarding this issue. How will this matter evolve? Will Google finally enter China under the control of the communist government?

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