Google reportedly planning a censored search engine for China

Google reportedly planning a censored search engine for China

Google reportedly planning a censored search engine for China

The government's Great Firewall already blocks crucial information on various topics, including opponents, free speech, sex, historical events like the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, as well as U.S. companies including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

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 work may also be unpopular among Google's own employees. Over the years, rumors of the Google Play Store returning to China have emerged multiple times, only to come to nothing in the end. "But we don't comment on speculation about future plans", Google said in a statement.

Google has not been operative in China since 2010, when it shut down operations in the country over accusations of limiting free speech.

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Pichai, who became CEO in 2015 when Google became part of parent Alphabet, has said he wants Google to be in China serving Chinese users. It is unclear whether Google will launch a desktop version of its China search platform. Project Dragonfly by Google is a custom censored search engine that makes oppression easier than ever before.

The news emerged in a piece from The Intercept, which obtained documents about an internal Google project to relaunch a search service in mainland China, complete with government censorship. "The talks were not going well, this person added".

Google strictly controlled the information regarding the development of the app, with only a few hundred even knowing about the project, less than one percent of Google's 88,000 strong workforce.

However, an employee at Google who is familiar with the search engine that is censored, confirmed that the project was genuine and moving forward.

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Chinese authorities would have to approve any version before it is launched. This would mark the company's return to both the country and the government's stringent censorship. "I'm committed to engaging more in China", he said.

This time the prize - access to the vast and growing Chinese market - is much bigger. Winning these people will be an uphill battle for Google, especially if it can not differentiate itself much from Baidu. Books that feature the negative effects of authoritarian governments will also be banned from the search results; probably because George Orwell's "1984" is becoming too accurate at this point.

"WTF!" Google researcher Meredith Whittaker wrote on Twitter, describing the company's move as "enabling mass politically-directed censorship of (AI-enabled) search".

The plan, which was criticized by human rights advocates, comes as China has stepped up scrutiny of business dealings involving United States tech firms including Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc amid intensifying trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.

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