Google plans censored version of search engine in China - The Intercept

Delia Walker
August 4, 2018

Google and other U.S. internet giants such as Facebook have made attempts to enter the lucrative Chinese market where the Great Firewall blocks access to their apps, website and services.

Whistleblowers within Google have outed plans to create a censored search engine for the Chinese market, originally leaking to the Intercept.

Google removed its search engine service from China in 2010 and said at the time that it "could no longer continue censoring our results" in the country. Over the years, rumors of the Google Play Store returning to China have emerged multiple times, only to come to nothing in the end.

Code-named Dragonfly, this project has reportedly been in the works since the spring season past year, and apparently started moving quicker after a meeting in December between Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, and a top Chinese government official. Websites and search terms about democracy, religion, human rights and peaceful protest will also be blacklisted.

Google responded to the report in a statement to The Verge saying, "we don't comment on speculation about future plans". China had banned the search queries for Oliver following the comedian made fun of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, on one of his shows.

Google has had quite the roller coaster ride with China.

Since Google exited, Baidu has become the dominant search engine in China. It gained momentum after a meeting between Sundar Pichai, and top Chinese government officials took place in December 2017. A final version could be rolled out in six to nine months, depending on when it's approved by Chinese officials, The Intercept reports.

We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement... Google is reportedly developing an Android app that will bring its search services back to China, with heavily restrictions on access to content that is deemed unfavourable by the ruling party.

While going to Google to search for virtually anything is a common practice for many of us, the same isn't true for people in China.

Reportedly, according to The Intercept, the company is working on a project for the country that has been code named "Dragonfly".

The company finally agreed to remove some content from serving up in the search results on to adhere to local law and continue operating in China. There are a lot of countries that would gladly pay a pretty penny to censor the internet in their region. The Information reports (paywall) that a competitor to AI-powered news app Toutiao has also been under development by Google "since a year ago", and that, of course, it would "comply with the country's strict censorship laws".

To some at Google, the company appears to have dramatically changed its thinking on at least some moral issues.

Most popular internet-based applications and websites are banned in China.

Last month, the senator criticized USA airlines for acquiescing to the Chinese government's demands that they remove references to Taiwan from their websites.

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