Google 'working on censored search engine' for China

04 August, 2018, 17:46 | Author: Lynette Payne
  • Google Chinese flag

We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.

According to confidential internal documents obtained by The Intercept, Google's Chinese search engine-code-named Dragonfly-has been in development since last spring.

Google is looking to reenter the Chinese market it exited in protest over government censorship in a move critics say is nothing short of hypocritical.

Separate reports by Reuters and New York Times, citing people familiar with the matter or working at Google, also confirmed the existence of Project Dragonfly, adding that its existence does not necessarily mean that it has approval from authorities and is not likely to launch anytime soon.

Google is not commenting on "speculation about future plans". In June, Google announced a $550 million investment in JD.com, a Chinese ecommerce company.

Not everyone is positive about the potential for Google to return to China. If approved by the government officials, the app could launch in the next 6 to 9 months.

Sites and services blocked in China include Facebook, Snapchap, Google, YouTube, Yahoo, Wikipedia, various news outlets and leading porn sites such as Pornhub.

According to The Intercept, it's had a change of heart and CEO Sundar Pichai conducted a secret meeting late past year with a Chinese official to speed up the relaunch.

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Google programmers and engineers have reportedly made an Android app that's already been shown to the Chinese government. Most are based at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, though others are reportedly spread out across the United States.

A separate report, by technology news site The Information on Wednesday, said that Google was developing a news-aggregation app for use in China that would comply with the country's censorship laws.

The platform will "blacklist sensitive queries", the report claimed, preventing access to websites now blocked by the so-called Great Firewall.

But the report pummelled shares of US-listed Baidu, which dominates China's search engine market.

"Google has been working on the app since a year ago and had been meeting with Chinese regulators to discuss the project", said the report, citing sources.

China is the largest internet market in the world, and for that reason, it's almost impossible to resist the financial lure of the country - even with the moral and ethical compromises doing business there requires. Still, China has the world's second-largest economy with a huge and fast-growing population of internet users. That gave Chinese internet users an idea of what they were not allowed to see.

- Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) August 1, 2018 If Google goes through with this and launches a censored search engine in China, effectively normalizing and Americanizing authoritarian censorship, this will be the Waterloo in the global battle for a free internet as a norm.

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