The Intercept: Google plans censored search in China; Baidu -7

The Intercept: Google plans censored search in China; Baidu -7

Google could be preparing to launch a search engine in China that would conform to the country's strict censorship laws, after previously opting out of the country in 2010. The company's workforce has pushed back in recent months on issues such as gender in the workplace and how artificial intelligence should be applied to weaponry. The modified version will not allow access to government-blacklisted websites or searches related to human rights, democracy, religion, or peaceful protest.

One state-owned newspaper in China, Securities Daily, dismissed the report.

Others questioned whether a heavily censored Google might be useful. Lastly, Google bowning down to the Chinese government is a huge win for the latter as it sets a precedent for smaller companies not to challenge censorship in China.

What has The Intercept said?

The hush-hush project is code-named "Dragonfly" and has been underway since the spring of 2017, according to The Intercept, which first reported the story, citing internal Google documents and sources familiar with the plans.

Other publications followed The Intercept and confirmed the report.

How would the engine work?

In a way that Chinese internet users are already accustomed to when using WeChat and Sina Weibo, a search for a banned website on this app would yield results with a note that some "may have been removed due to statutory requirements".

China has also seen increased affluence among its consumers, which are quick to embrace innovative new technologies and services.

What has been the reaction inside Google?

Google did not reply to a request for comment.

The current trade-war between the U.S. and China has slowed the launch plans, as officials in Beijing have yet to approve the app. "Google is for everyone", he said. "Some people are very mad we're doing it".

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Amnesty International said Google should not proceed with the programme.

Not a great deal.

It's good that Google's famous "Don't be evil" motto isn't an official motto anymore, because Google is about to do a bunch of evil in the near future if a whistleblower is to be believed. It is unclear whether Google will launch a desktop version of its China search platform. Tech Crunch reported that Google is essentially cloning Toutiao, a popular app in China. For example, the country blocks information on the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

The search app will also completely blacklist sensitive queries - such as, presumably, "Chinese Communist Party corruption" so that no results will be shown.

Apparently, talks between Google and Chinese officials have been ongoing for some time.

Prize greater than principles?

Sen. Marco Rubio and even some Google employees are among those criticizing the company.

Google's re-entry into China will see it compete with Baidu, which now has nearly 70 per cent of the domestic search market, according to data by StatCounter Global Stats.

This time the prize - access to the vast and growing Chinese market - is much bigger.

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