Google Is Creating A "Censored" Search Engine For China

Google is embracing evil

Modal Trigger Reuters

Talks between Google and the Chinese government over the censored search engine began before the start of the recent trade war between the United States and China, one of the people said.

Around eight years ago, Google had withdrawn from the Chinese market to protest against the censorship in the country.

After exiting China eight years ago due to censorship and hacking, Google is tuning a mobile search app that would filter blacklisted search results in order to re-enter the market, according to USA media reports.

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

This file picture taken on March 22, 2010 shows a Chinese flag flying next to the Google company logo outside the former Google China headquarters in Beijing.

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According to internal documents provided to The Intercept by a whistleblower, Google has been developing a censored version of its search engine under the codename Dragonfly since the beginning of 2017.

"It is impossible to see how such a move is compatible with Google's "Do the right thing" motto, and we are calling on the company to change course", said Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

In June, Google invested $550 million in JD.com, a Chinese e-commerce platform that is second only to Alibaba in the country. Given the size of its audience, this represents a potential missed opportunity for Google's revenue and brand awareness.

The Chinese government, meanwhile, has denied its reports of draconian censorship to a certain degree.

Since Google exited, Baidu has become the dominant search engine in China.

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It is still in the approval phase from China but it has been given the go-ahead from both Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and an unnamed Chinese government official. Google engineers have created custom apps named "Maotai" and "Longfei", which have already been demonstrated for Chinese officials and could be launched within the next six to nine months. This stripped down version of Google Search is being made for the Chinese market.

China has some of the harshest laws that tech companies must comply with or face being banned from operating in the country.

Dubbed as Project Dragonfly, it has been in the works since spring of a year ago. There are now no plans to offer Google search on the desktop in China, but if the Android app gets approved it seems like an inevitable next step.

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.

But the report pummelled shares of US-listed Baidu, which dominates China's search engine market. For the most part, Google search is inaccessible thanks to the "Great Firewall" that blocks many foreign internet services. Unlike many online publications, we don't have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic.

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