According to a leaked report found by the folks at Intercept, Google is secretly planning to bring back its search engine to China. The project, codenamed Dragonfly, will meet China’s censorship rule and filter out certain topics including search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protests.
According to internal Google documents and people familiar with the plans, the project was initiated in the spring of last year. However, it picked up speed following a December 2017 meeting between Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai and the Chinese government.
Google has created a custom Android app through which users can access Google’s search service. Per Intercept, the app has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government and the finalized version may be launched anytime in the next 6 to 9 months. This custom app will comply with China’s strict censorship laws, restricting access to content that is banned.
The Chinese government has censored popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as news companies: the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. It has also banned information on the internet about political opponents, free speech, and academic studies. Intercept says that the leaked document states that, “the search app will also blacklist sensitive queries so that no results will be shown at all when people enter certain words or phrases.”
Back in 2010, Google made the decision to exit China by publicly declaring it would withdraw its search engine services from China. The primary reason can be attributed to the fact that the Chinese government was forcing Google to censor search results. However, the Chinese government had hacked Google’s servers, which also played a major role in Google absconding China.
Patrick Poon, a Hong Kong-based researcher with human rights group Amnesty International, told The Intercept that “Google’s decision to comply with the censorship would be a big disaster for the information age.” The general public has also expressed their disdain over Google’s decision calling it a money-minting business.
Google is yet to share their views on the Chinese search engine. A spokesperson from Google was heard saying that they have” no comment on speculation about future plans.”
You can read the original story on The Intercept.
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