Google to launch heavily censored version in China

The censorship will be embedded in image search, spell check, and even suggested search.

The project is named Dragonfly and began in the spring of 2017, said sources close to the situation.

Depending on when the Chinese government approves the "toned down" Google, the app could launch anytime in the next 6-9 months.

The Intercept also reports that Google CEO Sundar Pichai met with a senior Chinese government official in December a year ago and the government has been shown the service and Android app working. The company's flagship product previously operated in China from 2006 to 2010 before being pulled under a firestorm of criticism that Google was complicit in the country's vast censorship apparatus.

"Google said it wouldn't bow to Beijing's censorship, and it should stick to its word, especially now that it's canceled its partnership with our military".

First published August 1 at 8:25 a.m. PT. Update, 12:45 p.m.: Adds more information.

The site, code-named Dragonfly, would block access to sites including the BBC, Wikipedia and Facebook, as well as searches related to human rights, democracy and religion.

If Google does make the jump to the Chinese market, it'll be competing with Baidu, the entrenched local search engine. The app will limit searches to exclude information not approved by the Chinese government, like results about sex or political dissidence.

A Google spokeswoman told Business Insider: "We provide a number of mobile apps in China, such as Google Translate and Files Go, help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.com".

China's state-owned Securities Times reported (link in Chinese) on Thursday that reports of Google 's re-entry in China are untrue, citing an unnamed source within the government, or "from relevant authorities".

Pichai, Google's CEO, has met with numerous high ranking officials of China's Communist party, including President Xi Jinping's top foreign policy adviser, Wang Huning. However, it looks as though Google is now willing to accept censorship in return for access.

In order to deliver this censored version of its search service, Google is working on a custom Android app which has had different internal names including Maotai and Longfei.

The letter noted FBI Director Christopher Wray's testimony at a February hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee when he said he was "deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks".

The search app would "blacklist sensitive queries", The Intercept says, identifying and filtering websites now blocked by China's so-called Great Firewall. Once the platform detects controversial keywords, it will filter and block websites that are now prohibited from visiting in China, like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and effectively all adult entertainment content. "It will set a awful 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".

It came on Google's table in the spring of a year ago.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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