Google is reportedly planning to launch a highly censored - and lucrative - version of its search engine for China that will block websites and certain search terms the country's government objects to, a new report said Wednesday.
Like many other USA internet platforms, Google's most popular products - search, YouTube, Gmail - have been banned in China for years, blacked out by a vast government censorship apparatus known as the Great Firewall.
Recently Leaked documents reveal Google might be ready to make a government-friendly, censored version of its search engine in order to gain access to the Chinese people.
Reports of Google's possible re-entry spurred a strong reaction on Chinese social media outlets on Wednesday evening, including debates over the merits of a censored search engine versus accessing the USA version through illegal virtual private networks. Yet it recalls Google's 2010 exit from China over the same government censorship its latest efforts would reportedly support.
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Search engines - one of the most important things in the world in this day and age - thus, serve no goal in China.
However, it appears that Google has now had a change of heart, perhaps influenced by China's estimated 772 million internet users. Furthermore, the report claims that said app has already been shown to Chinese government and is only pending approval before its launch, approximately within the next six to nine months.
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.
Human rights group Amnesty International is anxious that such a move from Google would set a unsafe precedent for the country.
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Quite interestingly, however, a Google worker told Reuters that he had himself transferred out of his unit in order to avoid any involvement with this project.
Google has been fighting internally over the ethical implications of its actions in recent years, and the China dilemma is a major battlefront. Following the meeting, Google announced an AI research center in Beijing and later released a file management app and sketch game for China's growing internet-using population. "Google is for everyone", he said. The Great Firewall has been used to completely block access to Google Search across the country except in Hong Kong, which operates as an independent region and is not subject to the same censorship laws.
Google is not commenting on "speculation about future plans". The ruling Communist Party led by President Xi Jinping frequently conducts widespread crackdowns on dissent, including targeting 300 human rights lawyers in 2015 and sending thousands of ethnic minorities to "re-education" centres in the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang, according to NGOs. The report goes on to say that reaching Android users is crucial as the operating system boasts of 80 percent of the total smartphone market share in China.
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