Google Working on Censored Search for China

Google Working on Censored Search for China

Chinese state-owned Securities Times, however, said reports of the return of Google's search engine to China were not true, citing information from "relevant departments".

Google's search engine hasn't operated in China since 2010, when the tech behemoth chose to withdraw from the country due to the very censorship concerns the company now appears to be sweeping aside at Beijing's behest.

The most recent report about its pending strategy suggests Google engineers built a custom Android app, the two versions named "Maotai" and "Longfei".

The Chinese government now blocks information on topics such as free speech, sex, political opponents, news, academic studies, and controversial events in history, as per a report by The Intercept.

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 company finally agreed to remove some content from serving up in the search results on google.cn to adhere to local law and continue operating in China.

The initiative is codenamed Dragonfly and is one of several options the company is pursuing for returning to China, the people said, while noting timing is still up in the air.

Chief executive Sundar Pichai was quite clear about his ambitions when he told a conference in 2016: "Google is for everyone - we want to be in China serving Chinese users".

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In January, the search engine joined an investment in Chinese live-stream mobile game platform Chushou, and earlier this month, launched an artificial intelligence (AI) game on Tencent Holdings Ltd's social media app WeChat.

A Google spokeswoman said that the company would not speculate on future plans, but that it did already have a notable presence in China. Notable banned websites include BBC News and Wikipedia.

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".

In the company's absence, Baidu Inc. has strengthened its grip on search in China while Microsoft Corp.'s Bing operates in the country by censoring subjects and words.

It could make sense for the tech giant to reintroduce its search engine in China, considering the country is now the biggest internet market in the world. The version of the search engine Google is reportedly building would comply with China's censorship laws, even though the country is cracking down harder than ever to limit free speech online.

Google "faces an uphill battle in getting users who are now very accustomed to Baidu to switch", said Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting.

At the time, Google co-founder Sergey Brin had issued the following statement to The Guardian explaining his stance against Chinese censorship - "It touches me more than other people having been born in a country that was totalitarian and having seen that for the first few years of my life".

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