Published: Sat, August 04, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Wayne Curry

Google Mum on Chinese Search Engine Reports

Google Mum on Chinese Search Engine Reports

Sources indicate that some Google employees have also claimed that the escalating trade war between the USA and China means that approval for the finalization of this project won't necessarily be granted.

Google, which already has translation and file management apps available in China, had notified Chinese users that their search results were being censored.

Google has been developing a censored version of its search engine under the codename "Dragonfly" since the start of previous year, according to a report published Wednesday by The Intercept, which cites internal documents provided by a whistleblower.

But the Chinese government could nonetheless use Google as a chip in its negotiations with the American government, which has been critical of the way China limits market access for U.S. technology companies. The companies said they would collaborate on retail solutions around the world without mentioning China, where Google services including Gmail and YouTube are blocked.

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.

Cotton released a statement scolding the company after The Intercept reported that the modified search engine would blacklist certain websites and search terms involving human rights, religion, democracy and peaceful protest. The two parties have then attempted to rebuild bridges as the Chinese government is interested in Google's machine learning and AI technology. But jumping back into China presents ethical issues for Google (GOOGL), which has long advocated a free and open internet.

As a result of Google's absence, Baidu is the dominant search engine in China, and approved by its government. The project started past year in April after Sundar Pinchai's meeting with the Chinese government.

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The new app, which has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government and is pending approval, was designed in California, with the help from other worldwide Google teams, the report notes.

Google may be launching Search for China.

China has some of the harshest laws that tech companies must comply with or face being banned from operating in the country.

The report from The Intercept revealed a project called "Dragonfly", and claimed its existence was known only to a relatively small amount of employees. It will set a bad precedent for many other companies who are still trying to do business in China while maintaining the principles of not succumbing to China's censorship.

That Google would not care for civic duties - in this instance not just censoring information and knowledge, but also censoring ideological differences and news of human rights violations - is not hard to imagine.

But the report pummelled shares of US-listed Baidu, which dominates China's search engine market. At just over 750 million internet users, China itself is almost as valuable as all of Europe. "We do not want to give users something that's illegal or something that's under our borderline".

The platform will "blacklist sensitive queries", the report claimed, preventing access to websites now blocked by the so-called Great Firewall.

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