Google ‘working on search engine to comply with China censorship’

Gerald Bowen
August 4, 2018

It certainly makes financial sense for Google to want a piece of the Chinese market in a more direct fashion, but its previous policy of "Don't Be Evil" may have been completely forgotten for this project. They asked not to be identified discussing private plans. The company ran a censored search engine in China from 2006 to 2010, when...

Bloomberg took the most comprehensive temperature test of the controversy that the news has generated among Googlers (paywall).

Google hasn't had a search engine in China in eight years. Facing heat from activists and even the USA government, Google eventually ended the product.

Others opposed the news on moral grounds. Work ramped up after Google CEO Sundar Pichai traveled to China to meet with Wang Huning, a top official in China's ruling party.

There were an estimated 772 million internet users in China as of the end of past year, with internet availability sitting at only 55.8 percent of the population. That's hard for a for-profit corporation to resist. This will ensure that people will not be recommended photos and information banned by the Chinese government. "The liberals of this world obviously will recoil at the idea".

The mobile search app will block some websites and search terms according to two sources.

Google is not commenting on "speculation about future plans".

China has been the biggest hole in Google's global footprint since it withdrew in 2010.

Dubbed Dragonfly, the specialized search engine could launch as a part of a joint venture with an unnamed local company.

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Google's foray into the Chinese market once more, this time complying with their Orwellian demands, sets a bad example for other internet companies. China is already censoring Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

In June, Google invested $550 million in JD.com, a Chinese e-commerce platform that is second only to Alibaba in the country.

Not everyone is positive about the potential for Google to return to China.

The project - codenamed Dragonfly - has been underway since spring of past year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official. Following the meeting, Google announced an AI research center in Beijing and later released a file management app and sketch game for China's growing internet-using population.

According to the Intercept, the app will automatically pick up on and block websites on Beijing's blacklist, known as the Great Firewall.

Any search terms or site that goes against the views of Chinese officials is subject to being removed from search results.

"This also raises serious questions as to what safeguards Google is putting in place to protect users' privacy", he said.

"While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission", Google said at the time.

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