Google 'working on censored search engine' for China

Nichole VegaAug 04, 2018

It is reported that the new search engine, codenamed project Dragonfly, has been in development since late a year ago and more recently received a boost when Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Wang Huning, a high ranking Chinese government official and foreign policy adviser to Xi Jinping, met in December 2017.

According to The Intercept: "Google's Chinese search app will automatically identify and filter websites blocked by the so-called Great Firewall of China".

Google is planning to launch a censored search engine in China?

Google's search engine hasn't operated in China since 2010, when the tech behemoth made a decision to withdraw from the country due to the very censorship concerns the company now appears to be sweeping aside at Beijing's behest. The relations between the tech giant and the Chinese government never really got better, and most Google services are still barred in China.

The Intercept obtained leaked documents showing that CEO Sundar Pichai met with a Chinese government official in December 2017, as part of a renewed push to re-enter China. But jumping back into China presents ethical issues for Google (GOOGL), which has long advocated a free and open internet.

Afterall, how can a company turn a blind eye to the 700 million internet users living in China and the potential revenue loss by not able to make money out of their pockets?

Although China's internet penetration is just over 50 per cent, its sheer scale means that there are three times the number of smartphone users and 11 times the number of mobile payment users in China than in the U.S., according to the report.

The app, which has been called Maotai and Longfei at different stages in development, has been demonstrated to Chinese officials, and could release in the next six to nine months. "But we don't comment on speculation about future plans", a Google spokesperson told VOA in a statement.

United States internet titans have long struggled with doing business in China, home of a "Great Firewall" that blocks politically sensitive content, such as the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

Google has declined to comment on the subject, but the reports have pummeled shares of US -listed Baidu, which dominates China's search engine market.

China has also seen increased affluence among its consumers, which are quick to embrace innovative new technologies and services.

Google may be launching Search for China.

In 2010, the company announced it would cease all operations in China, explaining it could not be involved in censorship. The Great Firewall has been used to completely block access to Google Search across the country except in Hong Kong, which operates as an independent region and is not subject to the same censorship laws. The company's flagship product previously operated in China from 2006 to 2010 before being pulled under a firestorm of criticism that Google was complicit in the country's vast censorship apparatus.

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