Google employees mad over reported plans for censored China search engine

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Technology website The Intercept reported on Wednesday that Google has been secretly developing an app which would see the company operate its search engine in China for the first time since it shut down its core business in the country in 2010.

Once the app is completed, if Google believes the product excels China's current leading search engine, Baidu, and it gets approved by China's government, Dragonfly would be the USA search giant's biggest step in the Chinese market.

He has continued to say that the fact that the world's largest search engine succumbing to China's censorship laws will send a negative signal concerning the right to information and free-speech, making people believe that nobody will ever bother, or should, challenge the censorship any more.

At the time, Google staffers wrote an open letter to company CEO Sundar Pichai, which read in part, "We can not outsource the moral responsibility of our technologies to third parties".

Google’s complying with China's unreasonable demands sets a bad example for other internet companies
Google complying with China's unreasonable demands sets a bad example for other internet companies

The search engine is being built as an Android mobile app, and will reportedly "blacklist sensitive queries" and filter out all websites blocked by China's web censors (including Wikipedia and BBC News). But it primarily consists of political content, including anything to do with democracy, human rights, nonapproved religions and protests as well as pornography and any service that does not implement censorship to comply with Golden Shield policies. "But we don't comment on speculation about future plans", a Google spokesperson told VOA in a statement. The source stated that they feared "what is done in China will become a template for many other nations". But that doesn't mean it'll be easy for the company to explain the concessions it'll have to make to the government. Steps in recent years like removing VPN apps from the App store, blocking social media applications such as WhatsApp and Instagram, and restricting access to the ZeroNet website provide evidence as to why the combination of internet censorship regulations in the country is derisively dubbed "The Great Firewall of China". The censorship will apply across the platform: Google's image search, automatic spell check and suggested search features will incorporate the blacklists, meaning that they will not recommend people information or photographs the government has banned.

According to internal documents, acquired by The Intercept, the final version could be launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from the Chinese government.

Offering a censored search engine would reaffirm the growing view that USA internet companies are increasingly willing to compromise on their supposed commitment to free speech for a chance to take a bite out of the Chinese market. And Google has apparently changed its mind about censorship.

Fei-Fei Li, a Stanford researcher who joined Google as its chief artificial intelligence scientist in January 2017, said in a blog post at the time, "AI and its benefits have no borders". At just over 750 million internet users, China itself is almost as valuable as all of Europe.

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