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Google Reportedly Developing Apps That Adhere to Chinese Censorship

04 August, 2018, 17:47 | Author: Janis Wilson
  • Report: Google's Plan to Launch Censored Search Engine in China Revealed

China has hundreds of millions of internet users and a thriving online shopping market, making it impossible for United States tech companies to ignore.

Google made a fateful decision that it would rather abandon the Chinese market than give in to demands that it censor search results at the direction of Beijing.

Google had a very public fallout with the Chinese government a few years ago when they refused to censor searches in the country. At the time Google cited limitations on free speech, blocked websites, email surveillance, and cyber attacks as reasons for pulling the filtered version.

The project - codenamed Dragonfly - has been underway since spring of previous year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official.

The Chinese version of the site will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest, The Intercept can reveal. "But we don't comment on speculation about future plans", Google said in an emailed statement. As a result of this firewall, the vast majority of Chinese citizens are said to be largely unaware of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Given the size of its audience, this represents a potential missed opportunity for Google's revenue and brand awareness.

Despite pulling its search engine in 2010, Google now has more than 700 employees in China, according to the Times.

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The company chose to quicken the development of a censored search service after Pichai met with top government official Wang Huning in December 2017, the Intercept reported. It's an Android app, and allegedly a finalized version has been shown to Chinese government officials.

Patrick Poon, a China researcher at Amnesty International, said the move puts money before human rights: "It will be a dark day for internet freedom if Google has acquiesced to China's extreme censorship rules to gain market access".

The Great Firewall has meant that Google Search isn't accessible from within China. "What is done in China will become a template for many other nations".

A Google spokeswoman told Business Insider that the company was already doing business with the Chinese.

Most popular internet-based applications and websites are banned in China. The Intercept reported that the work has been ongoing since the spring of 2017 and was accelerated in December following a meeting between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and a top government official. For now, the company is focused on initially rolling out the Android app, which a large portion of China's population will be able to access, as Android devices make up for almost 80 per cent of all smartphones in the country. "We want to be in China serving Chinese users".

On Chinese social media this week, some people cheered the news of Google's possible China re-entry, saying that they welcomed competition with Baidu, which has faced scandals over its search results related to medical treatment.

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