Google isn't just reported to be working on a censored search engine for the Chinese market-according to a new article from The Information, it's also developing a censored news aggregation app for China.
It is a version of Google Search which complies with the censorship rules the Chinese government imposes on internet services, meaning any and all terms the government deems unfit for public consumption will be removed from search results.
The new app, which has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government and is pending approval, was designed in California, with the help from other global Google teams, the report notes.
The move would mark an abrupt about-face by the Alphabet Inc. unit and a win for China's communist government, which suppresses free speech online.
You might have read reports of Google planning to return to China with a Censored Search Engine.
Google has been making a series of strategic investments into Chinese businesses as a way to indirectly gain access to one of the world's largest markets, but now may be taking a more direct approach. As per The Intercept's findings, Google's few hundred engineers and programmers have formulated a custom Android app that might have different versions, codenamed "Maotai" and "Longfei". The project has been revealed to The Intercept through an anonymous source who is against Google attempts to ignore its "don't be evil" motto. What is to stop Google from collaborating with other oppressive regimes to set up a similar system of censorship in other nations? We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China. Google's search engine and other services are in the same predicament.More news: Blocking Trump on Wall Leaves Nation Unprotected
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The project - code-named Dragonfly - has been underway since spring of past year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official, according to internal Google documents and people familiar with the plans. This censorship will happen across the board, with elements like image search, spell check, and search suggestions hiding keywords blocked on request of the Chinese government. A launch within the next six to nine months is expected contingent upon government approval.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment on their plans for the future.
It came on Google's table in the spring of previous year.
Human rights group Amnesty International said it was calling on Google to change course.
"Fun fact: 2 months before I left Microsoft (for Google) I ranted to my manager about how MS had no values, & Google had a sufficiently strong moral compass to forgo business in China for greater principles", Harris wrote.
As per the report, Google's search app would automatically "identify and filter" all the content blocked by China's firewall. Google had, up to that point, been self-censoring search results in China but made a decision to discontinue the practice after the hacking incident.