The search engine giant Google is developing an Android app-based search service for Chinese users. According to the documents The Intercept managed to source, the Mountain View-based search engine Google will soon launch a censored version of ‘Google.com’ in China that will blacklist various keywords and websites with respect to sex, democracy, religion, human rights, and protect among others that are censored by the Chinese government.
The project has been codenamed ‘Dragonfly’ on which, only a few hundred of the total 80K workforce working in Google know and work while others aren’t familiar with it. As per the documents, Google started working on a ‘censored’ search engine for China since December 2017 post meeting the high ranking officials from the Chinese administration and will unveil the final product in six to nine months after receiving a nod from the Chinese government.
Teams of programmers from various locations have been gathered to work on a censored search engine on an Android app with different versions namely Longfei and Maotai. Google renounced its services in China in 2010 when it received backlash from U.S. users citing its policy to adhere with Chinese censorship policies and if this project goes through, it will be a decade after Google retracted its services in China.
Google will reportedly adhere to China’s great firewall which blocks off any content related to sex, academic sites, free speech, news, political opponents and various other categories deemed unfavorable by Xi Jinping’s communist party of China.
As of now, China censors all websites including social media giants Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. The ‘Great Firewall’ will block the content using sophisticated technologies and algorithms according to its policies while the users will get the notice “some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements”. The app will also block keywords, phrases, and terms that been blacklisted by the Chinese government including information and photographs related to the same.
The Intercept reportedly spoke to a source familiar with this search app who stated that he had moral and ethical concerns related to Google’s move to adhere to Chinese censorship policies. Further, a Hong Kong-based researcher named Patrick Poon elaborated how it would affect not only China but other countries in the world. He regarded Google’s move as a big disaster for the information age.
Furthermore, he stated that rolling out such a censored service would be detrimental for freedom of information. It can be assumed that Google is adhering to China’s policy would give the Chinese government a victory over censorship which might be repeated by other countries as well.
With more than 95 percent of Chinese users accessing the internet via mobile phone where Android OS dominates the market with more than 80 percent of the market share, Google will launch an Android-based search app however, it is still unclear whether or not Google will launch a desktop-based service as well.
Google is reportedly in a joint venture with a Chinese company in rolling out this service which will be a great revenue stream for the Mountain View-based search giant since more than 750 million Chinese users access the internet which is higher than the total population of Europe. As of now, the revenue that search giant will bank is considered as the driving force behind this project. It is unclear if Google will actually roll out the project in China at all since no official words have been released yet Google will have to compete with Chinese search engine numero uno Baidu before entering the Chinese market.
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