Google in China: Internet giant 'plans censored search engine'

04 August, 2018, 14:18 | Author: Darren Santiago
  • Google Google Chinese search engine Chinese surveillance program US tech firms Baidu Google search results Project Dragonfly Sundar Pichai Google artificial intelligence

Google has been accused of being in "chilling" complicity with the Chinese government after plans for a censored version of its search engine were leaked.

The Chinese government-owned Securities Times said the reports of Google re-entering the Chinese market were false, according to "relevant departments", Reuters reported. Unidentified workers told the publication that the Dragonfly search app was a "censorship engine", and comparable to the company's now-abandoned Project Maven deal with the Pentagon-Maven let the military use Google's AI technology to analyse drone footage, and some employees resigned in protest, warning that the arrangement could help mark people for death. The country's entire internet is effectively "surrounded" by its Great Firewall of China, a joint effort by the state and tech and telecommunications companies to censor the web in accordance with Chinese law.

Google's Android already has the largest market share of any operating system in China, now accounting for roughly 51 percent of all devices. Back in 2010, when Google exited China, the company co-founder Sergey Brin said "with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see the same earmarks of totalitarianism, and I find that personally quite troubling". In the first half of 2018, China's national internet regulator shut down or revoked the license of more than 3000 websites.

After leaving China nearly a decade ago, Google might be going back.

The finalised version could be launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from Chinese officials, it added. "But we don't comment on speculation about future plans", the spokesman said. The company also complained at the time of hacking attacks that appeared to come from China.

Pichai, who became CEO in 2015 when Google became part of parent Alphabet, has said he wants Google to be in China serving Chinese users.

According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), China is home to 772 million Internet users - the biggest online community in the world.

According to The Intercept, Google created a custom Android app that will automatically filter out sites blocked by China's so-called "Great Firewall".

Google had a very public fallout with the Chinese government a few years ago when they refused to censor searches in the country.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin, whose parents brought him to the U.S.to escape communist Russian Federation, led a dramatic exit from mainland China in 2010 after the company refused to self-censor search content. Brin has stepped back from day-to-day operations and the internet giant is now run by Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai. Google has a complicated history in China and its search services haven't been widely available in the country since 2010, when it refused to censor search results and moved its Chinese operations to Hong Kong.

China infamously maintains extensive censorship of the internet with strict legislation in place to regulate domestic internet usage.

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