Google to launch censored search engine for China

Credit        Shutterstock

Credit Shutterstock

Like many other United States internet platforms, Google's most popular products - search, YouTube, Gmail - have been banned in China for years, blacked out by a vast government censorship apparatus known as the Great Firewall. The search giant is planning to roll out a China censor-friendly search engine that would filter out content blacklisted by the Chinese government. Project Dragonfly by Google is a custom censored search engine that makes oppression easier than ever before.

Code-named Dragonfly, this project has reportedly been in the works since the spring season a year ago, and apparently started moving quicker after a meeting in December between Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, and a top Chinese government official.

Its Google Translate app for smartphones was approved in China past year.

Amnesty International urged Google to "change course".

That said, the company has been making slight overtures to the Chinese people.

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The initiative is codenamed Dragonfly and is one of several options the company is pursuing for returning to China, the people said, while noting timing is still up in the air.

This has very serious implications not just for China, but for all of us, for freedom of information and internet freedom. Google has demonstrated the app to officials from the Chinese government, according to The Intercept and the Times. Google engineers have built two different versions of the search engine Android app and will likely be launched in six to nine months after government approval.

"We don't comment on speculation about future plans", a Google spokesperson wrote in an email to Search Marketing Daily.

The project is now codenamed as "Dragonfly" and would bring Google Search to China in the form of an Android app. For example, links to the BBC website and Wikipedia would be removed from the search results, The Intercept said. In its announcement about pulling out of the country in March 2010, Google blamed the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance policies as antithetical to what the company believes.

"For the world's biggest search engine to adopt such extreme measures would be a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom".

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Google has not officially commented on The Intercept report.

Google complying with China's unreasonable demands sets a bad example for other internet companies.

Once the app is completed, if Google believes the product excels China's current leading search engine, Baidu, and it gets approved by China's government, Dragonfly would be the US search giant's biggest step in the Chinese market. 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.

China infamously maintains extensive censorship of the internet with strict legislation in place to regulate domestic internet usage.

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