Google allegedly working on censored search engine for Chinese market
04 August, 2018, 17:48
After all, China, according to Motherboard writer Daniel Oberhaus, is a goldmine for internet companies, with twice as many people online as America. They asked not to be identified discussing private plans. The censored version restricts access to content Chinese President Xi Jinping's Communist Party considers "unfavorable".
Google closed down the search engine from the Chinese web in 2010 due to pressure from the government over censorship; now it has been developing an AndroidApp of the censored version of Google that will purge out search results which are not compliant with the Asian giant's strict censorships laws.
The work may also be unpopular among Google's own employees.
To some at Google, the company appears to have dramatically changed its thinking on at least some moral issues. She suggested the move may violate a recent Google pledge not to build technology that contravenes widely accepted principles on human rights.
Facebook's website is also banned in China but the company has also signalled its interest to enter the market. Last year, Google unveiled plans to open a research centre in China focused on artificial intelligence. In the first half of 2018, China's national internet regulator shut down or revoked the license of more than 3000 websites. Don't be evil. The corporate profits aren't worth it.
"This also raises serious questions as to what safeguards Google is putting in place to protect users' privacy", he said. "Not being in China is a huge strategic miscalculation".
Project "Dragonfly", as it is codenamed, involves a custom Android app that has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government and could be launched as early as within the next six months. The (successful) refusal of Google staff to work for the United States military has proved that workers have a say in the company's future.
For Google, China is an increasingly hard market to navigate. Most of its services are blocked, including Gmail and the Google Play app store.
Beijing-based Baidu tumbled 7.7 per cent to US$228.07 as of the close of trading on Wednesday.
Tech companies have seen pushback from human rights advocates before for accepting demands imposed by the Chinese government.
"It will be a dark day for internet freedom if Google has acquiesced to China's extreme censorship rules to gain market access", was the response to the reports of Amnesty International. "They won't help Department of Defense keep us safe but they will help China suppress the truth?"
The work followed a meeting between Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official.
At stake is the world's biggest online community of 772 million internet users, with nearly half of the population still not connected to the internet, according to the China Internet Report co-authored by the South China Morning Post, its tech news site Abacus and the San Francisco-based venture capital firm 500 start-ups.
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